Ceremony celebrates construction of new Grier Middle School
Speeches, praise, applause, and the ceremonial turning of dirt were the ingredients for a successful groundbreaking program on October 3 to celebrate the start of construction on the new W.P. Grier Middle School campus.
Despite the warm October afternoon, more than 100 people gathered at the construction site on Garrison Boulevard in Gastonia for the occasion. School representatives, elected officials, community leaders, and others were on hand to see the formal breaking of ground for the new school building that will be ready in 2025.
Dr. Steve Laws, interim superintendent, welcomed the crowd to the ceremony and shared a story about growing up in a nearby neighborhood and attending Grier when it was a school for grades 1-9. Additionally, the program featured remarks by Jeff Ramsey, chairman of the Gaston County Board of Education; Bob Hovis, vice chairman of the Gaston County Board of Commissioners; Walker Reid, mayor of Gastonia; and Dr. Amy Holbrook, principal of Grier Middle School. Student council president and vice president Adrianna Torrance and Halo Hailey-Giles also shared remarks.
Prior to the ceremonial turning of dirt, the Grier Middle School ensemble directed by Monica Morgan performed the song, “Child of Tomorrow,” and Rev. Daniel Commerford, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, offered a “blessing of the land.” Serving as student greeters and leading the Pledge of Allegiance were Adrianna Torrance, Jada Williams, Shameece Pope, Addy Roberts, Imani Ramseur, Samiya Collins, Mariah Hardest, Caleb Floyd, McKenzie Wilkes, Nye’Liyah Miller, and Halo Hailey-Giles.
The ceremony was recorded, and it will premiere on Channel 21, the education station for Gaston County Schools, the week of October 9; the video will air at various times over the next several weeks.
■ What they had to say
“When you look at the renderings and floor plans for this new school, you get a glimpse of what is to come for this community – it is going to be incredible to have a brand new school right here in a very busy and growing area of Gastonia. Building a new school here is a step in the right direction toward providing better school facilities for our entire community.” – Chairman Jeff Ramsey, Gaston County Board of Education
“Because our community said ‘yes’ to the school bonds, we will soon have a new Grier Middle School that will serve Gastonia well for many years to come – generations of students will call this school home, and it is an investment today that will pay dividends tomorrow.” – Vice Chairman Bob Hovis, Gaston County Commissioners
“Imagine for a moment what this part of Gastonia is going to be like when this new school is complete. We are going to have a modern school campus right next door to The Schiele Museum. Today, we want to pledge our support for an even stronger partnership between Grier and the museum, and with the public library just across the street, we envision this area being a model for collaborative learning and neighborhood pride.” – Walker Reid, Mayor of Gastonia
“The months ahead will be an exciting time for our students and staff as well as this community as all of us will keep an eye on the new school taking shape. We will be watching as the foundation is poured, the walls are put into place, the roof goes on, and a concrete structure eventually becomes a beautiful, contemporary school campus that will make all of us very, very proud.” – Dr. Amy Holbrook, Principal of Grier Middle School
About the new school
The new W.P. Grier Middle School will be located on the same 25 acres of land along East Garrison Boulevard in Gastonia where the existing school sits. Construction will happen in two phases – the 155,000 square-foot school will be built first on land that was used previously for the football field and then the old building will be demolished to make space for a new sports complex. Once the school opens in 2025, it will take another year to build the football, softball, and baseball fields.
The two-story school will house 1,000 students with the ability to accommodate as many as 1,200. It will include more than 40 contemporary classrooms; various instructional, office, and conference spaces; a multi-use media center and library; a large cafeteria and multipurpose room; and a modern gymnasium, which will be located behind the main building. The site plan includes about 200 spaces for parking and additional entrances to improve on-campus traffic flow.
The cost to build the new Grier campus is estimated at $50-$60 million, a price that is higher than previous middle school construction projects because of inflation. School bonds, which were approved by voters in May 2018, will be used to pay for the new school. Building on the existing campus saves taxpayer funds because no land had to be purchased.
Beam Construction Company is building the new school, and LS3P Associates is the architect. LS3P Associates also designed the new Stanley Middle School, which opened in March 2018, and the new Belmont Middle School, which opened in August 2021. The new W.P. Grier Middle School is similar in design to both Belmont Middle School and Stanley Middle School. Beam Construction also built the new Belmont Middle School and the new Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Gastonia, which opened in August 2017.
The school is named for W.P. Grier, who was superintendent of the Gastonia City Schools for 20 years (1921-1941). Grier opened in 1956 and originally served as a school for grades 1-9; it became a junior high school when the elementary grades were moved to Sherwood Elementary School when it opened in 1969. In the mid-1980s, a building with a gymnasium, office space, and music classrooms was added to the front of the school. Grier became a middle school for grades 6-8 in 1997, and it currently serves approximately 600 students.