SOUTHMAYD — Hoards of S&S students from 4th through 8th grade joined members of the school board and faculty in a ground-breaking ceremony to commence the construction of a new middle school campus this week.

Superintendent Roger Reed said the district chose to have the ceremony on Election Day as a symbol of gratitude to the voters that approved the $20.5 million bond authorizing the new facility.

“We decided about a year ago this was something we needed to do. We owed it to our students. We are standing here today because your community members supported this,” Reed said. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s so exciting to see it come to fruition today, to start the groundbreaking process. It’s great for our kids. We’re committed to getting this project going this week.”

Voters approved the bond to replace the existing middle school campus, originally built in 1939. Reed said the location, between the current high school and U.S. Highway 82 was selected because the district already owned the land. He said the land had previously been purchased with the express intention of building a new middle school. He also said the close proximity to the high school meant the students would be able to use the existing athletic facilities to help keep construction costs down. Reed said the success of the bond was, in part, due to the district making its message clear to the voters from the start.

Fourth and fifth grade students from the elementary campus in Southmayd joined 6th through 8th grade students from the existing middle school to partake in the ceremony.

S&S school board President Chris Lopez said the school was a long-time coming.

“It’s hard to imagine a group of men and women stood in a similar place today decades ago in 1939,” Lopez said. “Today, we are here with the same goal. That is to break ground on our very own new middle school. It seems like yesterday when I was elected school board president. Everyone seemed set on one mutual goal. Getting these kids a new middle school.

“We hope as the walls go up, so will the kids’ excitement for the growth in our wonderful school district. We are beyond pleased with the people who helped us bring this long-awaited dream to life.”

Middle school Principal Greg Pierce said the students were excited to be getting a new campus.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for the kids to get new state-of-the-art technology, a building, new facilities — a building that doesn’t leak on them anymore. It’s a great opportunity for the community to see what is happening here,” Pierce said.

The school board called the election in August of 2017. Voters approved the new campus by passing a $20.5 million bond for a new middle school by a vote of 525 to 394. The 73,000-square-foot campus will house fifth through eighth grade students.

“It’s so exciting to see the children get excited about what a new school will provide to them. The old school had a lot of issues. To know that for the next 50 years these children, plus thousands of more will benefit from the insight, the vision of the community leaders that made this possible,” said Mike Rhodes, of Claycomb Associates, the architectural firm that designed the school.