For the past two school years, Madison County High School students have seen the hard hats, the mud and the construction workers moving about.
But in August, they’ll return to a finished product — or at least that’s the goal.
The high school is undergoing a massive expansion, increasing the school’s size by 45 percent, from 135,285 square feet to 195,986 square feet. The major renovation project includes 45 new classrooms. There will be a new ROTC suite, journalism lab, business lab, band room, choral suite, media center, administrative area, counseling area, cafeteria, kitchen, special ed area and new science labs.
And leaders aim to have all the facilities completed by the time school starts back in August.
While the expansion itself is major news, the school got another big boost last year, when officials learned that Madison County had been awarded a $3.65 million grant to serve as a regional college and career academy. This includes the construction of a new ag life sciences building, which will include four labs: multi-purpose, biotechnology, animal science and plant science/horticulture labs.
The academy is officially now the “Broad River College and Career Academy.” It will serve students in Madison, Clarke and Elbert counties.
A number of local citizens attended the first meeting of the Broad River Academy’s executive advisory council Jan. 9 in the high school media center to get an overview of what’s in store at the school.
Paul “Bo” Boykin, CEO of the career academy, spoke about many opportunities that students in Madison, Elbert and Clarke counties will have at the Danielsville campus in August.
“It’s about transitions, helping students transition from high school to the next step,” said Boykin of the college and career academy.
Those at the meeting followed Boykin with gray hard hats on their heads into the construction zone and viewed future classrooms, labs and the spacious new cafeteria. Boykin also led attendees through current facilities, pointing out where walls would be knocked out to form new, larger instructional areas, or where a current room will have an all new function in the fall.
The academy will give local students an opportunity to learn a variety of job-related skills. For instance, Boykin pointed out that five students will be chosen to work for a summer at Caterpillar. He said the aim is to have such arrangements set up for all program areas at the academy.
There will be new programs for students, such as culinary arts, audio and video technology and film, healthcare science. There will be expanded ag education. Students can learn metal fabrication, electrical construction, architectural drawing and design, forestry, food science and nutrition, nursing and more.
Ag instructor Cindy Jones said the academy will offer students many opportunities to get off the MCHS campus and learn in an actual work setting.
“We’re providing relevant, real-world experience where we’re not just in a classroom talking about it, we’re in the real world working, gaining confidence.”