In addition to the students, teachers and faculty of the school, local officials, residents and members of the Walker County Board of Education attended the ceremony.
“This has been a long time coming,” Sumiton Principal Paige Skalnik said. “It is a great day, and it is a beautiful day that our God has given us.”
Kelly Black, who attended SEMS as a child before returning as a teacher, remembered her excitement at the new school when it was opened, before overcrowding became a problem and the issues with an “open school” plan were evident.
“This building was just never designed to accommodate this number of students,” Black said.
“When I came on the board, I knew there was a need for a school here,” Board of Education Member Sonia Waid said. “Once my youngest child started school here, it became obvious that this school was growing continually.”
Waid choked up as she discussed her high hopes for the students at the school and hopes that the new school will enable the students to better fulfill their own dreams.
Walker County School Superintendent Jason Adkins said that when he ran for office, he heard from numerous disgruntled residents who were frustrated with the lack of action on the school that had been promised for decades. He and the board decided to address the problem head on and try to find a way to make the situation right.
“You can come up with a solution or you make excuses, and I believe people here had heard enough of those,” Adkins told the assembly.
The school is expected to be completed by fall of 2014 and will house the kindergarten through fourth grade. The existing school will continue to house the fifth through eighth grade.
“The vision I have for this school is for every one of these students to succeed,” Skalnik said.
Several students participated in the program. Evan Bradford sang “I Am a Promise” and kindergarten students sang a song to end the program.