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Students break ground on Hampton High

Special Photo 
Members of the Board of Education join other dignitaries and future students of Hampton High School during the school’s groundbreaking ceremony Monday.

Special Photo Members of the Board of Education join other dignitaries and future students of Hampton High School during the school’s groundbreaking ceremony Monday.

HAMPTON — For now, the bare spots of Georgia clay bake beneath the sun. But the sparse wooded terrain is undergoing a transformation to be the future school home of the middle schoolers next door.

The property — located at 795 Hampton-Locust Grove Rd., in Hampton — will be the site of Hampton High School, slated to open the summer of 2014.

Members of the Henry County Board of Education, future students and other dignitaries were on hand Monday afternoon to participate in an official groundbreaking ceremony.

“I’m really glad to see it coming up out of the ground,” said Hampton City Councilwoman Mary Ann Mitcham. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Mitcham, a Hampton resident since 1964, participated in the groundbreaking ceremony. She raised her children in the small town.

The city councilwoman, in her second term on the council, also served on the county’s school board for more than a decade prior to her election to the city council. She represented District II on the board, between 1992-2004.

“When I was on the board of education, what I would hear from the Hampton locals, especially the older folks, was that we need our high school back,” said Mitcham. “It’s never been feasible to put a high school, like we have now, in the city limits.”

She said the new Hampton High would be situated outside Hampton city limits, but would serve the city’s residents just as well. She said the old high school was built in 1905, serving first through 12th grades, and it closed in 1955.

Mitcham said she believes the new high school will strengthen community connections as its existence will provide employment opportunities for some Hampton residents, a community meeting place, and connectivity among generations of the town’s people (past and future graduates of the high school).

“The construction of Hampton High School will provide a state of the art facility to support students and families in the local community,” said Henry County Schools Superintendent Ethan Hildreth.

“Thousands of students will attend here in future years, and this will become a critical element in the education of our young people and the economic development of Henry County,” Hildreth continued. “We are pleased, too, that this school follows the original Hampton High School that closed during the 1950s. The new school will open with a rich history already existing in the community and county.”

School officials said the school is being built to relieve overcrowding at nearby schools, specifically Luella High School in Locust Grove, which sits about a mile down the road from Hampton High.

School construction is being funded largely by the county’s latest one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST IV) for Education. Last fall, voters approved the school board’s referendum to continue the sales tax.

Costs to build the school are estimated at $35,693,000. The school’s architect is Manley Spangler Smith, and is being contracted by MEJA Construction based in Jackson.

The facility is expected to span 273,399 square feet.

School officials said the facility will encompass 48 regular classrooms, five special education classrooms, 10 science labs, as well as space for an art studio and theater studio, band room and choral room, a media center, career-tech classrooms, and a gymnasium. The campus also will include a sports complex, complete with a baseball field, a running track, and tennis courts.

They plan to begin looking at attendance zones for the new school in December 2013, prior to its opening. To learn more, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us.