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franklin county times

Russellville High School holds open house for new building

Russellville City Schools held a second open house Aug. 30 to give the community another chance to see the new main building at Russellville High School.

The project broke ground in October 2020 and finished in time for the first day of school this year.

Martha Sibley was among those from the community who came to see the new facility. “It’s a very nice building,” she praised. “It looks very well planned, and I’m happy for those who get to work here and go to school here and for our town.”

RHS junior Will Morgan said the addition is something he’s particularly excited about. Morgan plans to major in pre-med and pursue a degree in the medical field.

“The new building gives us updated opportunities with our science labs. It’s a much-needed add-on,” he said. “We were running out of space. I think it’s really nice, and I’m very grateful to have it.”

Hannah Waldrep, a freshman taking honors biology, agreed. “It’s really nice in here, and we have a lot newer equipment, which helps a lot, like when we work in the lab. I’ve only gotten to do that once, but I’m liking it so far.”

Appreciation for the new science labs – as well as the bigger and nicer classrooms, including more up-to-date technology, comfort and safety features – was a common theme among students, teachers and visitors at the open house.

“I have daily lab access for the first time. It provides a lot more opportunities for the students,” noted physics and chemistry teacher Niki Watts. “They love going to the lab. We don’t have to schedule around each other as much, so it’s a lot easier to get to go. Everything is up to date, and we have state-of-the-art safety equipment.”

Biology teacher Katelyn Little said she’s heard many positive comments from the students about the building and labs. “We’re all enjoying the labs so much. I like that we have two. It makes it so much easier to work with more kids at a time.”

Updated technology in the labs includes analytical balances – accurate and expensive scales that measure to the thousandth of a gram. Another device, a fume hood, is an important feature Watts explained is especially critical for safety.

“There are more features and newer equipment. They’re more comfortable, and the kids are excited about everything,” noted science teacher Kaleb Hood. “We’re looking forward to using the labs more now that we have two.”

In addition to science labs, the new building houses all of the administrative offices and meeting spaces for RHS, the special education department, the Spanish and English as a Second Language classes and the art classes.

“The kids are very excited to be in the new building,” said Stephanie Mayfield, who teaches English Language Learning. “We’re enjoying the stairs, getting a bit of a workout, and all the new technology. They all got touch-screen computers, and they’ve been overwhelmed with the beauty of everything. They like being able to look out the windows. Everything’s just really exciting.”

She said the students like being part of something new. “When the freshmen saw everything the first day, their eyes were so big, and it was wonderful to see how in awe they were of it all,” she added. “It’s such a nice space, and we’re all looking forward to continuing to enjoy it for a long time to come.”

Melissa Grissom, art teacher, said she and her students share that excitement. “I love having more space and storage, and there are a lot of windows and natural light,” Grissom said. “We have a kiln. The students are enjoying everything. We have a first-class art room.”

Another asset, the downstairs south corridor of the building has special doors that can be closed off to serve as a tornado shelter. “The doors and walls are reinforced steel,” explained RCS Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes “and those, along with the windows, are made to withstand 250 mile-per-hour winds.”

School secretary Nina McNatt said everyone seems to like the new building. “We’re enjoying our new facility. They’ve done a good job in keeping with Russellville tradition in the way they’ve designed the building, and our students appear to be enjoying everything.”

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