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Roanoke school remains on schedule

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INTERIOR: Workers from Fetters Construction walk along an interior hallway in the new Roanoke Elementary School.
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CONSTRUCTION: Construction workers from Fetters Construction stand inside the new Roanoke Elementary School slated to open for the 2020-21 school year.
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CONSTRUCTION: Roanoke Elementary School takes shape with an all-new interior.

by James Ehle - jehle@chronicle-tribune.com

Students and staff at the old Roanoke Elementary School are getting excited as the new building takes shape right beside them, according to school officials.

Huntington County Community Schools’ (HCCSC) new Roanoke Elementary School is being constructed to the west of the existing Roanoke Elementary. Despite a few setbacks at the offset with finding masons for the project and additional weather-related delays from a harsh winter and rainy spring, the school is on track for completion for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We are within a week of schedule,” said HCCSC Board Vice President Brian Warpup. “There hasn’t been too many challenges, I think there’s just more of an excitement from the community, from teachers and students.”

The old elementary school has remained open during the construction process, and while it’s exciting for staff and students at Roanoke to see the new building come together right beside them, there have been a few obstacles with construction according to Warpup.

“The students and the busses are having to dodge a little bit of that activity,” Warpup said. “But we’re coordinating the best we can.”

Chad Daugherty, superintendent at HCCSC, says the Roanoke Police Department has assisted with student drop-offs in the morning, and the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department and EMA has helped direct traffic.

Warpup says the community has welcomed the new building, situated amidst housing additions.

“That whole neighborhood there is just getting enhanced,” Warpup said. “It’s nice to attract newer families to this newer school so that Huntington County Community Schools can showcase our school district with Roanoke.”

The new building’s exterior architecture is inspired by the old building, but its inside is all new according to school officials. Fetters Construction is the company behind the build. The building will utilize some of the old building’s bricks and stone work. A limestone sign at the top of the existing school will be salvaged and displayed inside the new main secure entry lobby.

“We retrofitted the building and brought in some of the old history,” said Daugherty.

The existing building has served the community for around 90 years, but teaching has changed a lot has changed over the course of that time, according to Warpup. He says the new building will offer more flexibility with teaching and the changes between the buildings will be “overwhelmingly different”. Daugherty is excited about the new building because it will be accessible to all students.

“The new building will have handicap accessibility which is really important to us because our old building didn’t,” Daugherty said. “The classroom sizes are going to be 900 square feet compared to the 500 square foot classrooms we have now.”

Daugherty says HCCSC recognizes the importance of the history of the building as well as the impact of the new building for future students.

“We want to recognize the history of the building and its relation to the town of Roanoke,” Daugherty said. “It’s going to be in the hub of Roanoke and it’s a chance for us to build on the town’s legacy.”

The old Roanoke Elementary building will be demolished once the new building is completed. The space will be utilized to increase the size of the parking lot for the school. According to Warpup, an opening ceremony will be held at the new building, date to-be-determined.