PETERSTOWN – After eight years of planning and much hard work, a dream was celebrated on Friday that has now become a reality as Ballard’s new Peterstown School officially opened with a dedication ceremony.
Governor Jim Justice was the guest of honor at the event.
“You all know that Monroe County is dear to my heart in so many ways,” he said of his roots in Southwest Virginia, adding that only a certain amount of money is available for new schools each year.
Justice said he is one of several who have lobbied for Monroe County to get the project across the finish line by receiving funding from the State School Board Authority (SBA) to build the new $20 million school to allow.
The school is in a scenic area on Rt,. 12 north of Peterstown, with mountain views.
Justice said the new school, which houses fourth graders K in one wing and fifth through eighth graders in the other wing, replaces two schools in Peterstown, one in the 1950s and the other in the early 1960s.
“Monroe County is a long way from Charleston,” he said, adding that the county deserved the school and “there’s something to be incredibly proud of.”
“You guys are the best of the best of the best,” he said, referring to the commitment to education.
Justice, who was also accompanied by Babydog, said everyone should try to be like their dog and love everyone. “No simpler answer to how to keep people.”
The day was special for everyone, he added.
“You will never forget today and you will absolutely always know how important today is.”
Justice told the students that they could do great things.
“You’re on your way,” he said. “They have a facility that is second to none. You can do great things… Shoot the moon.”
State school principal Clayton Burch also attended the event.
“I snuck in here for the past year to get a little taste of construction,” he said. “This is the nicest school I’ve seen in the state.”
Burch said he’s pleased the children are growing up with teachers and staff who care about them and in a “community that values education.”
Monroe County Schools Superintendent Joetta Basile said many people helped make the project a reality.
“This project has been in the works for eight years,” she said, but all the work by “a multitude of people” has “definitely paid off.”
She said the early school years are the “foundation of education and learning.”
“I’m honored to be a part of this opportunity and a part of your children’s lives,” Basile said.
Johnathan McPherson, one of the principals of the school system, was working on the ground floor to get the new school and his young children will attend.
“To see this school as a reality is just amazing, and I know it’s amazing for the 750 students that will be there,” he said.
McPherson said the journey to getting the school began with planning, and Basile was fond of saying, “We must do what is best for the children,” and the work continued despite many obstacles.
He also commended the school board and SBA members and many others who worked to make this a reality.
Monroe County attempted to pass two bond referendums to fund a new school to replace the dilapidated Peterstown schools, but both failed.
Basile and the school board members did not give up, championing their case with the SBA and inviting visitors to see first-hand the shape of Peterstown Elementary and Peterstown Middle School, which required extensive maintenance just to see everyone Staying open all day should have closed long past their appointments.
But perseverance paid off and everyone involved celebrated on Friday.
School board member Sabrina Stutts said they were indeed promised a new school 28 years ago.
“I’m terribly excited,” she said. “I went to school at Peterstown Elementary, starting in kindergarten and then in (Monroe County) schools through high school.”
She said that this new school was really 28 years in the making because “at that time (1994) we were told that we were going to get Mountain View (primary school in Union), we were going to get James Monroe (high school in Lindisde). and ‘You’re next.’ So 28 years later we are next.”
“It took a long time,” Stutts said. “I’m tickled to death for the children and staff and everyone involved to see that it is safe, structurally sound, and equipped with state-of-the-art technology (including a state-of-the-art STEM classroom). We just couldn’t ask for more.”
Stutts said she’s proud to be able to say she’s had “a little part of it” and wants to see it grow and thrive as a school.
The program included students who will attend the school and featured guest speakers including Natalie Thompson (speaker Sydney Hunt, a former student who was on the planning committee for the new school); Harper McPherson (Johnathan McPhersoh); Willa Daniel (State Board of Education and SBA members); Benjamin Comer (architects, contractors and site manager for the project); Danni Dunbar (principal, teachers, staff and directors); Marshal White (elected officials); Jorja Stutts (Sabrina Stutts); Alyssa Broyles (Burch); Carter Miller (Justice); Brogan Parker (Jim Gore and Danny Lively for the Walking the Plank ceremony for the Peterstown Pirates); and Eleanor Raines, Hudson Lilly and Trevin Thornton (presenting the school mosaic).
The national anthem was performed by McKinley Wilson.
After the program, parents and students attended a reception in the canteen and were given tours of the facility.
Justice stayed for everyone to hit Babydog.
— Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org