OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - For the first time, the Ocean Springs School District will have an Upper Elementary School. While the school is new, the building isn't.
This year, Ocean Springs High students are moving to the new high school near Highway 57. So this summer, the old high school on Government Street is being converted into a campus for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.
The assistant principal called it the most challenging move in the district.
"We're actually combining three elementary schools, along with Taconi fifth grade school, and the sixth graders from the middle school. So yes, we're combining several different campuses all into one," said Joey Lee, Upper Elementary Assistant Principal.
That means murals and other wall paintings for older students have been replaced with bulletin boards and a fresh coat of paint.
"We had to bring in things for the classroom setting," said Lee. "For example, we had to install cubbies. We removed a lot of the lockers that used to be here for high school students. We also added a lot of cabinets for storage and then we're moving in all of our technology."
Crews have already installed some new playground equipment and soon, a portable building will be moved to make room for more playground space.
In the media center, thousands of age-appropriate library books are being unpacked, sorted, and placed on the shelves.
"It's a very big task. We have four media specialists working on the computers, getting them processed through the computers, and a lot of wonderful volunteers," said Patricia King, Upper Elementary Media Specialist.
"It's interesting, especially with all the books coming from all the other schools. We're trying to fit them in to ledgers that we got," said Richard Zelonka, a volunteer whose granddaughter will be a sixth grader this year.
"Our goal is to try and have the whole facility taken care of such as waxing, painting, so we can have teachers come in next week at some point and time to start taking care of those classroom needs," said lee.
Several walls were also knocked down to connect the wings, and the campus will be fenced in for better security.
"Although you may pass by the Upper Elementary and see the state that it's in right now, we assure you that it will be ready," said Lee. "It's definitely going to be student friendly. So we'll make sure day one we're going to be ready to hit the floor."
More than 1,300 students are expected to enroll at the new Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School. Their first day of school is August 7.