New school in Gulfport brings 'hope' for students and teachers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New school in Gulfport brings 'hope' for students and teachers

Tiny tots in bright yellow hard hats sang their hearts out. Then, the 50 students from Hope Academy picked up shovels to clear the way for construction of their new campus. (Photo source: WLOX) Tiny tots in bright yellow hard hats sang their hearts out. Then, the 50 students from Hope Academy picked up shovels to clear the way for construction of their new campus. (Photo source: WLOX)
Hope Academy is considered the only private, non-denominational Pre-K through 12th grade school on the Coast. (Photo source: WLOX) Hope Academy is considered the only private, non-denominational Pre-K through 12th grade school on the Coast. (Photo source: WLOX)
Parents look on with great anticipation as their children break ground on Hope Academy's new campus. (Photo source: WLOX) Parents look on with great anticipation as their children break ground on Hope Academy's new campus. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

A school ruined by Hurricane Katrina almost a decade ago will soon have a permanent home.

On Monday, more than 150 people gathered to break ground on a new Hope Academy in Gulfport. The school is considered one-of-kind on the Coast. Teachers say the school helps carry on an academic tradition.

"We are all a part of God's great big family. We are the world, Hope Academy's children," the children sang.

Tiny tots in bright yellow hard hats sang their hearts out. Then, the 50 students from Hope Academy picked up shovels to clear the way for construction of their new campus.

"It was like digging for bones," one boy commented.

"It's going to be so awesome! I wonder what new classrooms we're going to have?" asked five-year-old Parker Kittrell.

The 13,000 square-foot academic building will sit on 16-acres of land at Florence Gardens off O'Neal Road.

"Just so excited! Today's been a long time coming. The boys and girls are so excited," said Principal Kim Raulston.

The teachers are thrilled, too. Susan Reeves graduated from Westminster Academy in Gulfport in 1972. She started her teaching career there. When Westminster closed last year, and Hope Academy moved in temporarily, Reeves stayed on as a preschool teacher.

"I didn't realize how emotional it would be when I stepped off the bus and saw the ground broken. I couldn't believe it. We are so excited about this new building," said Reeves.

"It's a beautiful school, brand new, state-of-the-art. We're going to have all kinds of fine arts there. I'm the art teacher so I'm very excited about that and we're really looking forward to it," said Kitsy Benvenutti.

Hope Academy is considered the only private, non-denominational Pre-K through 12th grade school on the Coast. So the teachers will get to watch the little ones grow with the school.

"This is just another first when we open the doors of this brand new school, and these students here will be the students that will be able to walk in for the very first time," said Raulston.

"I think it's going to mean so much to this community, because we're committed to the academic success of the school. But not only the academic success, but the fine arts program, the science program, every aspect of student learning. We are committed to making it the very best it can be," she added.

The $6 million school is scheduled to open in January of 2016. The project is funded by FEMA and MEMA.

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