Area school board members tour new state-of-the-art facility

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – This Fall will bring a new school year and for some students a new school building.

Wednesday morning, board members with the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District toured the new Partnership Middle School.

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Members of the partnership said the new campus will maximize educational opportunities and allow students to develop 21st-century learning skills.

The Partnership School project has been in the works for almost 6 years.

Now, the building is nearly complete, but Superintendent Eddie Peasant says getting here hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges along the way, mostly with weather, and some other, as far as cost changes, due to inflation and those kinds of things,” said Peasant.

The facility is made up of two floors, with the sixth grade on the bottom level and seventh grade on the top.

In each hallway, there are what educators call “pods.”

“Inside each pod is an English, math, science, history, and computer teacher. We also have numerous exploratory classes and fine arts that the children can choose from for electives,” said Principal Julie Kennedy.

School Board member Wes Gordon has children of his own that will be among the first to experience some of the school’s new amenities.

“My oldest is in the band, and we just got done touring the band hall, the fine arts area, and it was incredible. It’s beautiful. It’s definitely one of the showpieces in this facility,” said Gordon.

In addition to fine arts, students will get hands-on experience with agriculture– thanks to a $900,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“They’re putting gardens in the courtyard area, and all of the downstairs classrooms have access to that.” said Gordon.

“Our students are exposed to a healthy diet. Not only what a healthy diet is but how to grow healthy foods, and learning about all things involved with agriculture in our world,” said Peasant.

Middle school students aren’t the only ones utilizing the new campus.

Mississippi State University will also have classrooms and offices in the building.

“Anyone taking classes in this building from the college of ED can come and take a look at what we’re doing in the classroom,” said Kennedy.

“We’re not only exposing our students to innovative opportunities in their learning, but we’re also giving future teachers hands-on experience in a school building where they’re able to observe students and teaching first hand throughout their time as they’re learning to go into the profession,” said Peasant.

Board members said the new environment is sure to have a positive impact on students and future educators alike.

“I think this facility just allows them to maximize the teaching potential and the learning potential of all the students,” said Gordon.

“The impact is just preparing students for the experience they’ll have here. So, things are changing throughout our district as we focus on 21st-century learning skills and preparing our students for the world that is to come,” said Peasant.

Board members say they are still discussing how to move forward with procedures regarding COVID-19 and social distancing.

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