PRICHARD, Alabama – Principal JaaDaa Holcomb couldn’t stop grinning as she walked the hallways of the brand new Whitley Elementary.
Her 385 students will move into the new campus - built adjacent to the original 1960s campus in southeast Prichard - on Monday.
On Friday, one class at a time, the students got a sneak peak at their beautiful and brightly lit school. Walking in lines, the students carried books and other supplies to place in their new classrooms so they’ll be ready to learn on Monday.
“I love this school,” second-grader Ennisa Lewis told Holcomb as she walked by.
The new school was built with about $10.5 million in federal stimulus funds.
Its tiled hallways are accented in the school colors of red and blue. While the old school had one room that doubled as both the cafeteria and gymnasium, the new one has separate facilities and a modern, industrial kitchen.
Along with Taylor-White Elementary in west Mobile, Whitley is one of the first schools built in Alabama under a new requirement that part of the campus have thick enough walls to sustain a tornado and 200-mile-per-hour winds. That’s the library and surrounding hallways and bathroom at Whitley.
"Our students are going to be in a beautiful place," Holcomb said. "They're going to be in a safe place, a wonderful place."
The old campus will soon be demolished.
First-grader Jonathan Pittman said he’s going to wake up Monday excited. “I’m going to be ready to come here,” he said.
His teacher, Renee Walker, had the students lined up in alphabetical order so they could put their books in their newly assigned cubbies. Walker has taught at Whitley since 1988 and said she’s glad for the upgrade to a campus that is beautiful and state-of-the-art.
“Monday is going to be like the first day of school all over again,” she said. “We’re going to show the students around and figure everything out.”
First-grader Tykerreya Key said she loves the new school. “I like the classrooms because they have pretty stuff up in here.”
Classmate Brandi Todd agreed. “I think this is going to be a good place to learn because we have pretty tables and great teachers.”
To see more pictures of Whitley, like the Mobile County Public Schools page on Facebook.
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