HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County community gave thanks Wednesday for a "green" school that could set the standard for the rest of the state. Hundreds of people gathered to dedicate the new Hancock North Central Elementary School. It could become the first LEED school in Mississippi.
LEED stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design." Educators called the school: "great, glorious and green."
Kindergartners kicked-off the celebration with patriotic music. Then, speakers took turns expressing their pride in the new Hancock North Central Elementary School.
"It's a fantastic testament to what we can do if we all work together to create a wonderful place for kids to learn," said Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis.
"We will learn, we will grow, and we will make you proud," Principal Chrissy Cuevas told the crowd.
For Cuevas, the school dedication was an emotional moment.
"I actually was a student here 23 years ago, at Hancock North Central before Hancock High School was moved," said Cuevas. "It's also special to me, because my own son will be a student here. It was very emotional for me, because this is my community, the place that I love."
As soon as the ribbon was cut, everyone moved inside for a tour of the 64,000 square foot building. They got to see why the school is on track to become LEED certified, making it the first K-12 school in Mississippi to go completely green.
The school was built using mostly renewable materials. For instance, the bricks came from fly ash. Only non-toxic glue and paint were used. The building was designed with energy-efficient lighting, auto flush faucets and toilets, and plenty of natural lighting. There are also systems in place to improve the air quality and acoustics.
"Over the life time of the school, with the energy savings and you may be able to build another school just like this for nothing," said Alan Dedeaux, Hancock County Schools Superintendent. "Very excited for our students, our children, our community with this facility and there are going to be many great things that are going to be taking place inside this building."
Part of the building was also fortified so the area can used as a storm shelter. For the little ones, it's home. After all, they were displaced for two years after their old school was torn down.
"It's good. It's clean and it's a green school. That's what I like about it," said third grader Anneliese Ladner.
"It was really clean and beautiful," said third grader Adriana Cuevas.
"It's such a blessing to us to have this and to offer that to all our students. It is a true gift and we're so grateful to all the people that made it possible for us," said Cuevas.
The entire project costs more than $13 million. The school is located on Cuevas Town Road. We could find out in a few months if the school will officially become LEED Certified.