Manila groundbreaking ceremony held March 11
Due the wet weather conditions, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Manila High School was held inside the gymnasium on Friday, March 11.
It was a special day marking a new beginning for students and teachers at MHS.
In addition to the students, teachers, administrators, Manila Board of Education members and alumni present, other guests included guest speaker Governor Asa Hutchinson; Senator David Burnett; Representative Dave Wallace and wife, Karen; Mayor of Etowah Charles "Bo" McCollum; Randy Veach, president of Farm Bureau, and wife, Thelma; Marshall Hughes with First Security Beardsley Public Finance; Don Mixon, attorney; Cromwell Architects CEO Charley Penix and other representatives of Cromwell; Jake Nabholz with Nabholz Construction Corporation and other representatives of Nabholz, and city council members of Etowah and Manila. Manila Councilman Jason Baltimore represented Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner who was out of town and could not attend the ceremony.
The Manila High School Select Choir sang the National Anthem.
Manila Superintendent Pamela Castor welcomed guests thanking them for being part of the groundbreakign celebration.
"The new facility will replace Tipton Hall," Ms. Castor said. "Tipton Hall has served the district well for 66 years."
Board President Jeremy Jackson spoke briefly about the journey that led the district to the groundbreaking ceremony. He commended the community for coming together to make it happen.
"I am proud to be part of this community," Jackson said. "We thank you all for joining us in the celebration."
The Manila patrons passed a 4.7 millage increase to build a new high school facility in September 2015. The final decision to build the new high school on the present campus was made by the school board prior to the millage vote. Manila was approved for $14,024,718.01 in State Partnership funding which will pay for 70 percent of the total project estimated at a little over $20 million. The millage increase will pay for the district's portion of the cost.
John Mixon, architect with Cromwell Architects Engineers, spoke briefly thanking the school board for allowing them to be part of the project. He also commended Governor Hutchinson for the support in education throughout the state.
Mixon talked about the things not seen in the plans such as the strength of the structure calling it a safe place when storms come. He also spoke about the 750 seat auditorium and other highlights of the new facility.
"We hope this building will last and serve the district at least another 66 years," Mixon said.
Kylie Henderson, student council president, introduced Governor Hutchinson talking of his accomplished career of service and expressing the district's appreciation to him for taking part in the ceremony.
Gov. Hutchinson said he was glad to be in Manila and glad to have the students attend the groundbreaking ceremony.
"I want to support the Manila community and the Manila School," Governor Hutchinson said.
Governor Hutchinson recognized Doug Smith, one of his staff members, formerly of Manila; Randy Veach, of Manila, president of Farm Bureau.
"Randy invited me here today," Gov. Hutchinson said. "He represents our state and nation well."
Governor Hutchinson went on to commend the community for supporting the millage for the school.
"You have an incredible community spirit and a commitment to education," Governor Hutchinson said. "That is what this building represents for the future of education and shows a commitment to our young people. I applaud you."
Governor Hutchinson recognized Manila teacher Gerri McCann.
"I met her in Little Rock," he said. "She was an example to me and encouraged me in the computer coding education which is now available in all schools. Thank you for being part of it."
Ms. McCann trained in the new computer coding classes to help start the new classes at MHS.
Governor Hutchinson talked about the future of Arkansas in economic development and jobs. He said as governor he wants to promote jobs and build relationships with other countries that are good for Northeast Arkansas.
He talked about a balanced budget to make sure education can be properly supported.
"I appreciate the legislators who are here," he said. "They represent you well."
He challenged the Manila students to return the community's investment in them by working hard and doing their best.
The gold shovels were marked by years of graduation for each class enrolled in the Manila District. The shovel handles were signed by each student represented by their graduation date.
Castor thanked the patrons of Manila School District.
"We will not disappoint you," Castor said. "We will be good stewards of your tax dollars."
She thanked Governor Hutchinson saying, "Fourteen million dollars shows your faith in our future."
Following the ceremony, a reception was held.