GALLIPOLIS — The beautiful, new building that now sits proudly on Fourth Avenue in downtown Gallipolis was recently filled with celebration and school pride when a group of school administrators, staff, community leaders, elected officials and interested residents came together to celebrate the dedication of the new, state-of-the-art Gallia Academy Middle School and the start of a new era for Gallipolis City Schools.
Among several speakers including school board members, city and county officials and State Rep. Ryan Smith, were former Gallipolis City Schools Superintendent Jack Payton, former Gallia Academy Middle School Principal Brent Saunders and current Gallia Academy Middle School Principal Craig Wright.
After the ceremony ended, Wright provided a tour of the new school to interested attendees and media representatives including the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.
According to school officials, the new school features 74,250 square feet of new and renovated space at a total cost of $10.1 million. The architect for the project was SHP Leading Design. Contractors and engineers include: General Contractor Tri-Mat, TP Mechanical, AJ Stockmeister, Econco, Claypool Electric, Wafferstrom, BBL Carlton, LLC, and Dynamix Engineering.
Wright proudly showed off each office and several classrooms, explaining all the new features and improvements over the school of the past.
The new facility has two fully functional science labs with a prep room shared between them; new classrooms with new technology; a new gymnasium; a kiln for the art department; and new office spaces, as well as a new reception area. It also features special facilities for autistic and other special needs children, including a sensory room and touch-screen technology to aid in communication.
One of the most exciting additions — one that is a first in the history of GAMS — is the new, stainless steel, state-of-the-art kitchen and cafeteria, a move that is very popular with students and staff.
Gallipolis City Schools Director of Communications Jim Craft said that, in addition to providing a safer bus loading atmosphere, the addition of the new kitchen and cafeteria has allowed a closed campus, which exponentially improves the security of students during school hours.
Teachers and school administrators know that there are additional benefits of on-campus lunches, however.
“Kids eating together at school creates community,” said Craft. “I just can’t stress that enough.”
Mostly, though the new school facility has teachers and students excited again.
“It’s completely changed the environment for staff and students,” said Wright. “Everything about this place is now conducive to learning. It’s an exciting time for us.”