Pelham Park Middle School project officially breaks ground

Mayor Gary Waters and members of the Pelham City Council and Board of Education toss dirt with their shovels to celebrate breaking ground on Pelham Park Middle School (For the Reporter/Eric Starling)

Mayor Gary Waters and members of the Pelham City Council and Board of Education toss dirt with their shovels to celebrate breaking ground on Pelham Park Middle School (For the Reporter/Eric Starling)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— The site of Pelham Park Middle School was busy with activity April 26, and not just with construction workers and heavy machinery. City leaders, school employees, residents and more gathered on the site to officially break ground on the project.

The approximately 120,000-square-foot building will house about 750 sixth- through eighth-grade students. The entire project will cost about $23 million, according to Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield, and the school is scheduled to open in August 2017.

“It’s very much mixed-emotion day for me, because I look at the history I’ve had in Pelham,” said City Council President Rick Hayes, who grew up in Pelham. “I had a great time in these schools, but we needed to step forward. This was our time to step forward. This is what our community desperately needed.”

Pelham Park Middle School has a contemporary design by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood and features brick, stone and faux wood. There will be two outdoor courtyards, inspiring interior graphics, 29 classrooms and four lab areas.

Coefield said the fine arts instructors helped design an art room, band room and choral area, and the media center will have the flexibility to transform into a large meeting space.

The school also features a computer storage room, a room for professional development, a gymnasium/auditorium, weight room, locker rooms, career tech spaces, kitchen/cafeteria and more.

“This is going to be a great school,” Coefield said. “I’m pleased with the design. It is an efficient design that is going to meet our needs. I think our students, staff and parents are going to be extremely excited.”

Robert White, senior project manager with Hoar Program Management, and Robert Gray, with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood, both spoke about Pelham City Schools as a whole and the progress the school system is making.

White called Pelham a “serious program,” noting it started a few years ago as a vision and has already celebrated the groundbreaking of two new schools.

“That process is providing our children with educational facilities for which our community can be proud,” he said. “As a Pelham resident and parent, I personally am appreciative of that vision and process.”

Studies have shown that the environment students are in can affect their ability to learn, according to Gray. He said designing a school is about community, teachers and the leadership within the system.

“This project in particular is very important to me and our company,” he added. “It’s a middle school, but it’s also a recreation center, a park, it’s a community. When it is completed, I personally think it will change Pelham for the better.”

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters and Board of Education President Rick Rhoades also spoke during the ceremony. They thanked everyone involved with the project who helped to make it possible.

Waters said this school, and all the schools in Pelham, are ingredients in the recipe for a well-rounded community. He also said the schools are a way to keep businesses in Shelby County and attract more to the area.

“We have a chance,” Rhoades said. “We have a chance to really have something special in Pelham. This could be something that will be very unique.”