Gainesville City Schools staff, faculty, students and board members gathered on a large patch of dirt Thursday morning, to break ground on a fresh start for Gainesville High School, one that school officials say merges the old with the new.
To the left of the high school’s main office entrance near the front parking lot, construction will begin for a two-story cafeteria and media center building, anticipated to open for students in January 2022. Two other projects in the same vicinity will follow, including a Student Activities Center and a three-story instruction building. The campus-wide improvements are expected to cost $55 million.
Construction has already started for the Advanced Studies Center, on the corner of Rainey Street and Century Place, with an anticipated opening date for the fall 2021 semester.
Jamie Green, Gainesville High’s principal, spoke during the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, Nov. 19, noting that the start of the construction transcends beyond a physical structure.
“We are a community of groundbreakers doing groundbreaking things,” he said.
Green reminded everyone of The Hub, the school system’s one-stop resource center, and the “groundbreaking” programs for dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, fine arts, athletics and visual arts.
“Today as we celebrate the building that’s about to occur, we view it as not just building a new physical high school, but continuing to build on the legacy that has come before us,” Green said.
Carroll Daniel Construction is the construction company behind the high school’s improvements and Robertson Loia Roof PC is serving as the architect.
Superintendent Jeremy Williams said the new cafeteria and media center, which will begin construction soon, will have the cafeteria and kitchen on the bottom level and the media center on top. The dining area will be able to serve 730 students for lunch.
“We’re looking forward to what’s happening on this campus overall,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of history, but also a lot of opportunity.”
Kris Nordholz, Gainesville school board member, said he has many fond recollections of attending Gainesville High, but won’t let that get in the way of embracing new beginnings.
“I don’t want my nostalgia to outweigh the current kids’ opportunity to have a good experience themselves,” he said. “I think memories are great, but we want the dreams for the future to outweigh the memories.”