Oak View Middle School (OVMS) students in Newberry knew it was a big day because Principal Kelly Armstrong wore his fancy tie.
About 150 fifth grade students joined Armstrong, School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) members, staff, faculty and the engineer and construction team members to break ground on a 24,000 square foot expansion on Monday afternoon.
Armstrong said OVMS was thankful for the residents of Newberry, Archer, Jonesville and Alachua County for raising funds through the half-cent sales tax initiative.
“It’s an exciting project,” he said.
Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon said OVMS is where her father worked and she also substituted there.
“We know the community of Newberry is growing,” she said. “We know that people are very excited about their schools in this community. And we’re excited that we’re going to be able to provide this facility.”
The extra 24,000 square feet will have 16 classrooms and a multifunctional room that will accommodate 350 students. The addition will cost around $9 million, according to the ACPS.
Simon also announced that the district is installing a new HVAC heating and air conditioning system in both the existing school and the new addition.
Simon thanked Newberry Commissioners Rick Coleman, Mark Clark and Tony Mazon for attending the ceremony.
SBAC Chair Robert Hyatt told the fifth graders that the building was for them.
“It’s not for adults,” he said. “The people of Alachua County pay taxes to have the best facilities they can, not for us, for you.”
Domenic Scorpio, president and CEO of Scorpio construction company, told the crowd he was excited to build the new addition.
Scorpio’s motivation is “the children,” he said, and he introduced the architect and construction crew leaders for the project to the applause of the students and other ceremony attendees.
Safety is the number one priority, Scorpio told the crowd, and put all of the students and staff on alert to act as the eyes and ears of safety.
“If you see something unsafe happening, be sure to tell your administrators,” he said.
He then introduced the senior manager and project manager who would be the “boots on the ground” during construction.
The add-on will be finished on Nov. 28, Scorpio said.
“We will build it well,” he said.
Armstrong then announced the names of fifth graders who came up to hand over items going into a time capsule that will be opened in 35 years.
Class photos, a set of multiplication tables and a pencil, a face mask with signatures, a favorite fidget, and a collage of their favorite activities including logos representing Instagram, TikTok and Minecraft were all entered into the capsule.