JONESVILLE — The last time students in Jonesville had the privilege of walking into a new portion of one of the school buildings was more than 30 years ago.
Imagine what it was like for students in the elementary and middle school levels to walk into a completely new building this year when school started.
“Wow,” said Jonesville Elementary and Middle School Principal Floyd Lyles. “What a memorable moment.”
School started two months ago but the community of Jonesville gathered Sunday to have its own memorable moment and pledge to continue its commitment to education during a dedication ceremony for the new school building.
Like the crowd that gathered to ring in a new era in Union during the dedication ceremony of Sims Middle School a week earlier, the gym at the new Jonesville building was packed.
Lyles opened the event with words of praise for the Union County School District Board of Trustees and his faculty, staff and students at the new school.
He said they all stand together in the shadow of a new building that will allow him and those who work at the building the opportunity to continue Jonesville’s commitment to education excellence and help their students reach their full potential.
He said everyone at the new Jonesville Elementary and Middle School is grateful for the new facility.
“Thank you for all you have done,” he told board of trustees members.
Board of trustees Chair Wanda All echoed Lyles sentiments by recognizing the community’s commitment to education and its desire to provide children with the education and skills they need to become members of society.
“The board has the desire to provide you the tools and environment for that success to occur,” she said.
The new building is the result of that desire.
All said it took many people’s commitment, faith and sacrifice to make this building a reality — too many to list in the allotted time — and thanked them all for their efforts in working toward the common goal of providing the best possible facilities for education in Jonesville.
She added it’s been “a privilege and an honor” to work with the many people who helped make the new building possible — specifically citing former Union County School District Superintendent Thomas White for his vision to begin the process of building the new school and his successor, current superintendent, Dr. David Eubanks for his leadership to complete the project — and said the board hopes the community of Jonesville will be just as excited about what the future holds as it is proud of what has been accomplished.
Work on the new building began in July 2006 when the school district started making financial plans for its construction and the construction of the new Sims Middle School in Union.
Financing was finalized before the end of that year for both buildings and, according to district Finance and Operations Officer Lynn Lawson, the basic floor plans for both schools were completed in June 2007 with site and building designs finished between July 2007-February 2008.
Construction began in April 2008 and the Office of School Facilities approved the schools for occupancy in July 2009 and school started on schedule this year on Monday, Aug. 17.
The combined cost for both buildings was more than $40 million, according to Eubanks. These are the first new schools built in Union County since Buffalo Elementary School opened in 1986.
But in all reality, 1985 Jonesville High School graduate and board of trustees member Donna Sanders hit the purpose of Sunday’s dedication on the head — it really isn’t about the building, it’s about the people inside and at home.
“Everyone makes a difference,” she said.
She issued a challenge to employees of the Jonesville building to inspire students and challenge them to do their best like so many others have before. She mentioned several people by name, including a former Jonesville building janitor and several past faculty members as well as those people who influenced her while she was in school.
Sanders also encouraged parents of Jonesville students to get involved in their children’s education citing statistics showing the more support students get at home the better they do in school.
“So families, you are the primary reason for your child’s success,” she said.
Eubanks affirmed Jonesville’s history of commitment to education in his closing remarks and said with the new building that legacy continues.
He was driving home several days ago, listening to NPR — National Public Radio — when an interview with Ernie Banks came over the airwaves. The superintendent referred to Banks as one of the greatest players to ever play baseball.
The thing about Banks, however, is that while he was one of the greats he never played for a championship team or in a World Series. In fact, he played from 1953-71 for one of the worst clubs at the time — the Chicago Cubs.
Eubanks said the interviewer asked Banks how he dealt with the disappointment of playing for a team that wasn’t winning especially since he was one of the best players in the game.
Banks told the NPR commentator after a few years with the Cubs he decided he cared, but not too much. Instead he focused on the important things in life like relationships.
Eubanks’ point — the presence of so many from the Jonesville community at the dedication ceremony told him it cares about the new facility and more importantly the education of its children.
He recognized all those involved with the construction and planning of the new building and congratulated the board of trustees on its diligence for getting the project completed.
Eubanks mentioned the work of Union County School District technology director Tim Barnado who would normally have been at the ceremony but was dealing with the loss of his home due to a fire the day before.
He also thanked the students of Jonesville Elementary and Middle School for participating in the ceremony and challenged them to always seek ways to improve.
The superintendent reminded the adults in attendance, too, that the community’s commitment to education is just the beginning.
“We, as senior adults, have the tremendous responsibility to younger adults coming up in our footsteps,” Eubanks said. “Always remember the responsibility we have.”
The future is bright with the community’s recommitment to education the dedication ceremony marked.
“Always expect great things and great things will happen,” Eubanks said.