City schools to break ground on expansion

Published 8:15 am Thursday, July 9, 2015

Star Photo/Kayla Carter The Betsy Band truck is parked in the location where the new music room and four additional classrooms will be built at Elizabethton High School.

Star Photo/Kayla Carter
The Betsy Band truck is parked in the location where the new music room and four additional classrooms will be built at Elizabethton High School.

The Elizabethton City School system will celebrate the next milestone in improving its facilities tomorrow with a groundbreaking ceremony at Elizabethton High School at 9 a.m.
City and school system officials are excited to see the construction of a music room and additional classrooms begin, City Schools Director Dr. Corey Gardenhour said.
“We set out in the beginning to do three projects,” he said. “This will be the second, and the next goal is to upgrade T.A. Dugger. It’s wonderful time to be here.”
With such a monumental step for the band and chorus program taking place, Gardenhour wanted to be sure to extend the invite to the public.
“The overall goal is to allow the public to be a part of it,” Gardenhour said. “The community comes together to support the band all year, and this is just one more step in the process of making a quality program.”
The event aims to recognize individuals who have donated time or money— or both — to making the music room and classroom additions possible.
“We have all kinds of guests coming,” Gardenhour said. “We have a few guest speakers, too.”
EHS Band Director Perry Elliott plans to make a few remarks about how it will help push the music program forward.
“Maybe people don’t realize this, but we’ve had several people from the music program go on to become quite famous,” he said.
Former students’ success has served as a springboard for the new facility, Elliott said.
“The town recognizes that we have a great program and they deserve to have a really good facility,” Elliott said. “That’s a great feeling.”
Elliott and EHS Choral Director Debbie Gouge hope the new facility will take the already successful program to an unimaginable level.
“Now we have a facility that is going to help students fulfill their dreams,” Elliott said.
“This is going to be a huge boost for us,” Gouge said. “We will have room to spread out and be able to do the best that we can offer.”
Gouge pointed out that music teaches students more than how to have perfect pitch or play the right notes.
“We’ve had people come through the program who are doctors, lawyers, architects and everything,” she said. “Music is a great foundation for people to learn social skills, leadership, self discipline and ground work.”
In terms of growing the program, the new facility is already turning wheels inside Gouge’s brain.
“We could expand,” she said. “We have the possibility to offer some kind of other classes with the type of facility we will have. We’re really looking forward to it.”
The old auditorium has served as the program’s home for a while, but it’s time for the program to have a space tailored to its needs and goals for the future, Elliott said.
“We really and truly have been making due for over 30 years,” Elliott said. “We’ll be 10 feet from the old band room, but it’s going to be worlds away.”
Another positive point to make, Gardenhour said, is that the school looks to enroll 100 more students with the addition of classrooms.
Elliott boasted about how great it is to see the city and school system working together on the project.
“We’re very grateful for the city council giving us the money that they did,” Elliott said. “We are also grateful for the individuals who have stepped up to help us fill the gaps.”
Fundraising efforts are underway, but Gardenhour said that’s not the focus of this event.
“This is about getting started,” he said. “It’s going to be a celebration of partnership between the city and the school system.”

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