Groundbreaking marks beginning of VHS renovations

Published 6:39 pm Monday, November 5, 2018

The Vicksburg Warren School District took its first steps toward the future Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony at Vicksburg High School, signaling the start of the school’s $37 million renovation and remodeling project. 

The renovation and remodeling project is part of an estimated $132 million district-wide capital improvements project to renovate and expand school facilities, and funded in part by an $83 million bond issue. The Vicksburg High project is the first major project under the program.

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“Today marks the beginning of creating a new learning space,” VHS principal Angela Johnson told the more than 100 people attending the ceremony. “These changes are dedicated to the education and overall growth of the students.”

Gary Bailey, who is managing the Vicksburg Warren School District’s facilities plan for Dale Bailey Architecture, said representatives for the architect met with students from the school to discuss plans for the project.

“They were involved in the design of the building when we sat down at the table and started creating sketches for what it’s going to be, and they shared their vision, they shared their passion and excitement for what their school could be,” he said.

“That’s what makes us happy, and that’s what makes me sleep well at night — to be involved in not just buildings, but educational environments. We’re training the minds and hearts of young people, and this building is part of the tools to do that.”

Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent Chad Shealy said the renovated school building “is something special you can’t find anywhere else. This is an extraordinary day in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“This project that we’re embarking on today for Vicksburg High School will provide a world-class facility that will support the transformation the district has already done. These improvements are an outward expression of our forward thinking of our courageous board of trustees.”

Shealy called the five-member board “the greatest board this district has ever seen. What’s happening today is possible because of their leadership.”

Board of Trustees president Bryan Pratt said the groundbreaking had been a long time coming, adding it had been “more than 50 years since an investment of this magnitude has been made in our children in our district.

“Today we start down a two-year path that will transform teaching facilities to accommodate the innovative learning and instruction that’s already going on in our classrooms,” he said. “There are great things happening in the Vicksburg Warren School District.”

‘on our way’

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. called the bond issue funding the school district renovations and the improvements “a powerful investment.”

“I am proud of this school and it (the project) couldn’t come at a better time,” he said, adding the school district improvements, coupled with the sports complex, the proposed Mississippi Hardware building tech transfer project and other proposed projects “means we are on our way.”

According to a project schedule presented by Dale Bailey Architects to the Board of Trustees in October, the Vicksburg High School project is expected to be completed in June 2021.

Under the overall project for the school district, the renovations and remodeling project for Warren Central High School is expected to go out for bids the first of March. The budget for Warren Central is estimated at $26.3 million.

The remodeling and renovation projects for Vicksburg Junior High School, the Vicksburg High and Warren Central High athletic facilities, Warren Central Junior High, the new Academy of Innovation and Beechwood Elementary are underway.

Bailey told the board in October advertisement for bids for the first phase of athletic facilities renovations for Vicksburg and Warren Central are expected to go out in November and be opened at the December board meeting.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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