Ocean Springs School District celebrates 'landmark moment'

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Land is being cleared for a 330,000 square foot school.  The property at the corner of Highway 57 and Old Spanish Trail will be home to the new Ocean Springs High School.

On Wednesday, about two dozen people gathered to break ground on the $55 million project.

"This is absolutely a landmark moment for the city of Ocean Springs and for Jackson County," Ocean Springs School Superintendent Dr. Robert Hirsch said. "This is fundamentally a $55 to $60 million facility that is the keystone project for restructuring public education for the next half century in the city of Ocean Springs."

Ocean Springs school leaders expressed their excitement, knowing that their vision for a new high school is closer to reality.  There were obstacles along the way.  The district had to push for a $37 million bond issue to fund the project.  There was debate over the location of the school.  And it took awhile to get a wetlands permit.

"This has been such a long time coming and we are so indebted to this community.  It really took an entire village in this community for this to be a day of celebration," School Board President Dr. Sharon Walker said.

In the crowd were two sisters who were born and raised in the neighborhood and went to school in Ocean Springs.

"I was the first person in the school system that got a perfect attendance record and I'm proud of that," Beryl Fountain Davis said.  "I'm just thrilled that this school is going to be here."

"I think it's great that the school will be here, and it's a beautiful picture of it," Mary Fountain Martin said.

The grand, two-story building features two gyms, a fine arts facility, and enough classrooms for 2,300 students.

"This is going to be a magnificent facility here in two and a half years that will service our teachers and our students for many, many decades to come," said Ocean Springs High School Principal David Baggett.

"I'm really excited," said Lauren Ross, who has two young children. "I was a teacher before I became a stay at home mom, and I think it will be wonderful facility for all the students and for my children in the future."

The school district owns 100 acres of land at the site. The school will sit on 37 acres, while the other 60 acres will be preserved as wetlands. The high school project will go up for bids in January.  Construction is expected to start in April and the school should be finished by 2012.

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