Jenifer Campos was all smiles as she watched her son, Joshua, and twin daughters, Daniella and Isabella, holding the ribbon with other children for the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of their new school, Mundy Mill Academy.
The three children attended Gainesville Exploration Academy this year, but are looking forward to their new school where Joshua will be in second grade and the girls will be in first.
“It’s beautiful; it’s so exciting,” Campos said. “This is going to be history, and my kids are going to be one of the first ones to come, so I’m excited. They were so excited to see their new school, so we couldn’t miss it.”
The Campos family, who live about a two-minute walk from the new school, were among an estimated 800-900 students, faculty, community and representatives from other schools in the Gainesville City School District attending the ceremony, which was followed by tours of the new facility.
After his family toured the two-story building, Joshua gave a two-word analysis of his new school.
“It’s big,” he said.
The school, which cost about $18.7 million, is an addition to relieve growth issues school officials are facing.
“It’s a very big deal,” said Adrian Niles, the district’s maintenance and operations director and capital projects manager. “It’s an awesome school, a good collaborative effort by the parties involved and we’re just excited and glad to open this thing up.”
Mundy Mill Principal Crystal Brown, who moved to Gainesville in January to begin plans for the opening, agreed there was excitement with the opening.
“For me, personally, I’m thrilled to be here,” Brown said. “It’s like a bucket list item. I get to open a brand-new facility, and I’m so glad Gainesville City Schools entrusted me with that job.”
Brown had served as a principal in North Carolina for more than a decade before applying for the Mundy Mill position after her husband got a job with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
“The first time I saw (the job listing) my heart was beating really fast,” she said. “I knew this was the place for me.”
Gainesville Superintendent Wanda Creel, who is stepping down at the end of June, said she has been involved in building 10 schools in four different school districts, but this is the first one in Gainesville.
“There’s been an awful lot of planning and preparation, a lot of details about finances and decisions, even down to what type of flooring do we put in,” she said. “What made it special was the fact that this was a long time in coming here for Gainesville city. To have had the honor of helping to realize a vision that has been in place for a long time has been very special for me. I wouldn’t take anything for the moments that we’ve had in building this school.”
School board member Sammy Smith walked into the gym and immediately noticed a different smell.
“It smells so new in here,” Smith said. “It’s a shot in the arm for the community and the students and the staff and another good feather in the cap of the school system.”
After completing his tour of the school, board chairman Brett Mercer called Mundy Mill “a fabulous space for children.”
“Everything seemed to be extremely thought out,” Mercer said. “What an impressive facility.”
Jeremy Williams, Gainesville’s incoming superintendent, called the school “a shining jewel for this community.”
“I’m extremely impressed with the craftsmanship, the planning,” he said. “This is really a school where the planning has outdone itself to make sure it’s ready, not only for next year, but also for future years.”
Maria Ramirez, Mundy Mill’s new parent coordinator and media clerk, worked for many years at New Holland Knowledge Academy before taking the job at the new school. She had some mixed emotions Tuesday.
“It’s bittersweet for me,” she said. “I feel sad that I’m leaving New Holland, but I’m happy that I’m starting at a new school.”