By Curt Yeomans
Kindergarten through second-grade students, who live within the boundaries of Mt. Zion Elementary School, soon will be holding classes near a 100-gallon aquarium, an outdoor amphitheater, and a "reading pit."
Clayton County and school officials, gathered on Tuesday for a groundbreaking for the new, k-2 primary school facility next to Mt. Zion Elementary School at 2984 Mt. Zion Road.
The school will get its students from the Jonesboro area. Third through fifth-graders in the same area will attend Mt. Zion.
The 45-room primary school, which is unnamed, is being built to relieve overcrowding at Mt. Zion Elementary, which is at least 200 students over it's capacity of roughly 750 students, said Ronnie Watts, the director of construction for the school system.
"This will effectively put 1,500 students on one site," Watts said. "They'll be in two distinct schools, though, which will have their own identities. At the same time, they will share some things. They'll have a common attendance boundary, for example."
Construction on the $14.7 million primary school is scheduled to be completed in June 2008. The school will open its doors to students two months later. It will have a capacity of roughly 700 students, Watts said.
It will be the second primary school to open in the county. The first, Kemp Primary School, opened in 2004, next to Kemp Elementary School in Hampton.
The front of the new school will be mainly glass to allow more natural light into the building. An outdoor amphitheater will be built in the center of the school, surrounded by four wings, which will house classrooms. The media center will house the school system's first reading pit, which is a lower, tiered area in the library where students can sit and read, or watch performances by classmates.
The new school will have a covered walkway connecting it to Mt. Zion Elementary, so an older student can drop off a sibling at the primary school, and walk next door to the elementary school with out being exposed to the weather.
"This building is of excellent design," Interim Superintendent Gloria Duncan said. "I commend the architect and the representatives of the school district, who played key roles in the development of the plans and specifications for this project.
"I know that the Mt. Zion-area students, and their parents, are looking forward with eager anticipation to August 2008."