Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) staff cut the ribbon for the opening of Metcalfe Elementary School on Monday morning. With the 2021-22 school year starting Tuesday, teachers, administrators, staff and students are hurriedly preparing for in-person instruction.
“You can’t see my smiling face because of my masks, but I am truly smiling this morning,” said Dr. Leanetta McNealy, chair of the Alachua County School Board. “It’s because I’m imagining the looks on the faces of our students when they arrive on this beautiful new campus tomorrow morning.”
The renovation project added a new two story building to the Metcalfe campus, extensively remodeled other buildings and demolished some old buildings as well.
A new playground sits in the wide grass plaza between the buildings, and sidewalk coverings now spread across the campus.
“I am honored to be the principal here,” incoming principal Christiana Robbins said at the ceremony. “I’m excited for the community to have a facility like this available to the students and the families and the teachers.”
Over the last three weeks, ACPS has cut ribbons for three new or revitalized facilities.
A brand new Terwilliger Elementary School officially opened on July 28 at 3999 SW 122nd Street, changing locations from near The Oaks Mall. The opening marked the first time since 2012 that Alachua County has opened a new school.
A revitalized Howard Bishop Middle School campus hosted its opening ceremony on August 2 at its campus next to Metcalfe off of 9th Street.
Alachua County taxpayers funded the new school facility projects through a half-cent tax that voters approved in 2018.
“We thanked voters of Alachua County for approving the half-cent [tax] during the last two ribbon cuttings,” McNealy said at the Metcalfe opening. “But, when I look around this beautiful space, I feel moved to say it again. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
ACPS Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon, who attended both Metcalfe Elementary and Bishop Middle School, said the new facilities stand as a testament to the community’s involvement in the local school system.
“I want to thank all of the taxpayers, everybody who has invested in our education system,” Simon said at the ribbon cutting.
She said studies have linked investment in school facilities with student outcomes on testing, so a bright, new campus will inspire students to excel for years.