Forty-eight years after the Morris R. McBride Elementary School was built on Custer Road, students and school officials gathered Friday to break ground on a new $32 million facility at Fort Benning.
It is the first school constructed on the military post since Stowers Elementary in 1993 and the first of several schools to be built with a 21st Century design.
The new school construction is expected to take two years to complete.
Changes are in the works for two other post schools. Officials are designing a new E.A. White Elementary School for Patton Village and an annex for Faith Middle School.
"While we are proud of the new design and the impact it will have on student achievement, we are particularly pleased that safety and security stayed at the forefront of our discussions," said Christy Cabezas, superintendent of the Department of Defense Education Activity for the Georgia and Alabama School districts. "The school design provides a safe learning environment for students, staff and the community who use the facility."
Instead of the traditional classrooms, the new school will feature areas called neighborhoods, offering an individual approach to meet the needs of each child. There will be retractable walls, furnishings geared toward movement, in-floor wiring and generic spaces that can be adapted for specialized uses.
The building will be equipped with extensive technology systems and learning studios. With access to voice, data, wireless internet and video, the studios will offer learning with laptops, tablets, mobile devices, audio enhancements with volume control, document readers and interactive white boards with integrated projectors.
Phyllis Parker, principal of McBride, is excited about the possibilities for students. "The new facility will allow the technology that they use at home and in the real world to be a natural part of the school day," she said. "Rather than having stationary computer work stations, students will be able to take laptops or other devices to individual or group work spaces."
Due to space constraints in the current school, it takes time and effort to make an event or special experience possible.
In the new building, that energy can be used for learning because the building will facilitate the logistical details.
Rather than having students clustered around a computer in a tight space, Parker said children will be able to take their laptops to comfortable work spaces.
Learning continues outside the new school. Spaces outside will encourage environmental awareness and special spaces for lab work from young learners through the upper grades.
With and open plan, the school will be energy efficient with key elements from LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Elements include storm water control, low-flow toilets, daylights and views, LED lighting and possibly wind turbines if the budget will allow them.