MT. JULIET - As part of three West Wilson county school addition groundbreakings in two days, golden shovels turned dirt to launch a new building at the Rutland Elementary School campus Wednesday.
This campus joins West Elementary and West Wilson Middle School as part of a needed expansion program to bring more classrooms to the West Wilson area where student population is growing exponentially. A groundbreaking for a new Watertown High School on the east end of the county also took place Wednesday.
In a large cleared platform area under a clear blue sky, county, city and school officials, faculty and students gathered to celebrate what will be a new 75,000 square foot, pre-kindergarten through second-grade, stand-alone building with a cafeteria, library, gym and classrooms that will double space at this campus.
"This is a realatively new school," Wilson County Schools Director Mike Davis said of the school, which was built in 1999.
He said in 2007 an additional 12 classrooms were added.
"Look around, and you can see where the growth is coming from. There are so many new rooftops in this area," he said. "It's growing rapidly and will continue to do so."
He said with the new addition, the campus will accomodate up to 1,600 students, about twice as many as now.
"This will give us a little room to grow," said Davis. "But at the rate we are growing it won't be long before we are full here."
Mirroring Davis' remarks about appreciation of the county commission and the Wilson County School Board, Rutland principal Cathy York said if not for both these entities, the new addition would not be possible. Davis also said the project was "underwritten by the taxpayers."
York said there was severe overcrowding at the school, and administrators were eagerly waiting for next September when they could begin to use the new addition.
"We have teachers team teaching, four portable classrooms and some are teaching out of a closet," she said. "I thank the teachers for keeping positive attitudes and smiles."
There are 100 more students enrolled this year from last.
School Board Chairman Don Weathers said the school addition was part of a 10-year building plan that was orchestrated some years ago.
There were several members of the school board on hand, as well as county commissioners and Mt. Juliet City Commissioner Jim Bradshaw.
More than 100 people attended the event and watched as Jason Morris with Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris showed plans and explained the two buildings will work as one. He said there will be two different play areas and two traffic plans that will help alliviate traffic.
Longtime second-grade teacher Karen Brockett was on hand to celebrate the new building she will call home.
"I'm excited," she said. "We won't have to team teach anymore and have much more space. Space is the good thing."
She also said with so much mandated testing and two different testing times between the younger and older grades, having pre-k through second grades in their own building will help with keeping things quiet.
Though it was a half day for students, they came back for the ceremony to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem.
The engineering firm for the project is Civil Site Design, and the contractor is Craig Johnson, who was responsible for the contruction of the new Lebanon High School that opened this year.
Mt. Juliet News Managing Editor Laurie Everett may be reached at 754-6397 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.