Principal Wesley Roach had a message for his students during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly rebuilt Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy in Gainesville on Thursday.
“Boys and girls,” Roach said before hundreds of students, parents, faculty and community leaders packed into the school gymnasium, “this is your school. This is our school. A school is not just a building. But a school is the pulse of the people that come into class every day.”
Then Roach called on the audience to sing the school song with him as he played a keyboard in what became a joyous celebration of the school’s promising future.
06012018 ENOTA videoPrincipal Wesley Roach shares his excitement about the unveiling of the rebuilt Enota elementary school in Gainesville on Thursday, May 31. The $19 million, 129,000-square-foot building was completed in just 12 months.
Gainesville City School System Superintendent Jeremy Williams said the public unveiling on Thursday was an opportunity to honor and recognize all those who contributed to the school’s redevelopment — from construction workers to staff who oversaw the project to the students, parents and faculty who dealt with the challenging logistics of sharing space at Centennial Arts Academy this past school year.
It was 12 months ago this week that workers began tearing down the six-decade-old Enota school, the start of a $19 million project to build a 129,000-square-foot, two-story, state-of-the-art elementary school in its place.
The new school is about 12,000 additional square feet in size from its predecessor, comparable to the size of Mundy Mill Academy, which opened last fall.
It includes a large gym, full-size basketball court and spectator stands; a media center; performing arts space; art exhibit hall and other amenities the former school never had before.
For example, there are classrooms dedicated for special education students for the first time, replete with washer and dryer hookups, personal bathrooms and showers, and enough space for students to move, work and interact in positive ways.
Adrian Niles, chief operations officer with the school system, said there was an intentional effort to retain certain historical aspects of the old school when constructing the new Enota.
This includes using the original wood doors for the entrance to the main office, placing a brick from the original construction in 1954 within the cafeteria stage, preserving the old water tower on campus and plans to restore the school’s renowned garden.
“We brought into the new school a lot of the old charm,” Niles said.
John Filson, chairman of the Gainesville City Schools Board of Education, said the new Enota marks a new chapter for a historic school that has meant so much to the local community and its alumni.
“It’s wonderful to see that the spirit of Enota has not left,” he added.
Board member Willie Mitchell said the new school represents the need to give students the best facilities possible to enhance their academic possibilities and achievements.
But a sustained commitment from the community and the school system to support Enota remains a lasting endeavor for Mitchell.
“There are some kids, even in all these beautiful facilities, that are still missing out on some things,” he said, such as additional academic and social services support. “There are things we can do and will do to support them.”
State Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, said his father-in-law attended the original Enota school some 60 years ago and that its value to the Gainesville community is hard to overstate.
“You look around, how can you not just say, ‘Wow’?” Dubnik said. “We talk about this over and over and over, how important it is to invest in education. But that doesn’t just mean in the classroom. It means the classroom.”