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Dig it: South Point breaks ground on new schools

Jay Richards, the man responsible of the design for the new South Point schools, is more of an archeologist than an architect.

"When Michelangelo made sculptures he said that the sculpture was always in the block of marble, and he just uncovered it," said Richards, an architect with McDonald, Cassell and Bassett Inc. "In some respects, the schools have always been here, we're just going to uncover them."

Richards and several others instrumental in the construction of South Point's new high school and middle school campus took the first steps in "uncovering" the schools at a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday morning.

The only indication that students would be studying there in less than two years was a sign about the construction and a tent for onlookers. But that also meant there was nothing to distract from the picturesque spot on County Road 60 that has been selected for the new campus.

The breathtaking location was one of the first things that was mentioned by several of the gathered speakers, such as Sen. John Carey and Rep. Clyde Evans.

"If it weren't for the schools I would have liked to have been invited to this beautiful spot anyway," Evans said. "It's a great place to be and to learn."

Although South Point students Michael Penniston, 15, and Kasey Burnett, 13, admitted that their parents were responsible for their attendance at the groundbreaking, they were excited to see what the school had planned.

"I'm a little nervous, but I'm glad we're getting new ones," Penniston said. "The high school hallways are really compact, I just hope they have bigger hallways or something, they're terrible."

"I just hope they get them done before too long so we get to enjoy them," Burnett said.

If all goes according to plan, the 13-year-old should have a new school by her sophomore year. Officials say they plan to have the new facilities ready by the start of the 2007-2008 school year.

South Point is currently accepting bids on the project, and will do so until Thursday. The contract for the buildings should be awarded July 25 and actual work on the complex should begin on July 27.

Although still in the design stages, two new elementary schools are also in the works. More emphasis will be placed on those as the high school and middle school complex nears completion.

When all four schools are totaled, the project carries a price tag of $40 million. The Ohio School Facilities Commission will pay for 80 percent of the project with the remainder gathered in a tax levy that was passed last year.