One of the oldest schools in Catoosa County is getting a face lift.
Originally built in the 1950s, Graysville Elementary has undergone multiple refurbishments over the past four months to make the school safer for its 514 students. Section by section, the 54,327-square-foot school has seen upgrades, and is now down to its last, and oldest, section, the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.
An entire new wing is being constructed, including a new entrance, administrative office, media center, nurse's office and 20 new classrooms. Construction is scheduled to be complete in December.
Second- through fifth-grade students will move into the new building once it is completed. Then, the current second- and third-grade classrooms, as well as the gymnasium, will be completely renovated.
Once that renovation is finished, kindergarten and first-graders will move to the current second- and third-grade area, and the oldest section of the school will be demolished.
While the new entrance may be the most visible change — replacing the existing hillside entry with one on level ground, and the current two-way feeder road with a one-way — but the biggest change for students' day-to-day will be the classrooms.
Kindergartners still have "pod classrooms," popular in the 1970s. This style of classroom, which lacks a door, is no longer conducive for student learning and safety, said Catoosa County Schools communications specialist Marissa Brower.
Teachers will be able to design their own classrooms specific to the way they teach, which often includes bean bag chairs.
"Children really like that because they can sit on the floor and collaborate with each other with their iPads and Chromebooks," said system Director of Operations Mike Sholl.
Also bringing the school into the present day will be the new media lab, which Sholl said will have the "latest and greatest" technology to enhance student learning. The lab will have a "Barnes and Noble feel" to it, so children will want to come and learn in a comfortable setting, he added.
Sholl and Brower believe the students will be more successful with these upgrades because of their modern approach and offerings.
"We're getting away from lecture learning," Sholl said. "Learning is more interactive."
Students' play spaces will also be updated. The gymnasium's refurbishments include new paint, new murals and a new awning for the entrance, and the first- and second-grade playground will be upgraded with modern play equipment.
Funding for the $13 million overall renovation is coming from the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Brower said parents and teachers are excited to see the renovations come to fruition.
"Our board of education understands that parents want the school their child is zoned to attend to be equitable to every other school in the county," said Superintendent Denia Reese. "We are very fortunate to have ESPLOST pennies so we can provide excellent facilities for our children."
Email Alex Farmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.