There won’t be much “old-school” feel to Heard Elementary School when the students come back from their upcoming Christmas break.
Instead, there will be a brand new building.
Students and their parents crowded the hall to get an early look at the school’s new facility Wednesday, and Principal Sandra Stanley said she has heard excitement about everything from the larger space to the increased number of restrooms.
“In fact, when the kids were asked what they liked best, they said the lunchroom, the gym and the bathrooms,” Stanley said.
The old Heard Elementary is 42,000 square feet and had been in use since 1933 with additions as late as the 1990s. The new building, located next to the old school at 6515 Houston Road, is 96,000 square feet.
“It’s just huge,” Stanley said.
Heard Elementary housed 584 students as of the most recent enrollment figures released last month. Jason Daniel, executive director of capital programs for Bibb County schools, said the construction cost was $13.2 million.
Overall, he was pleased with the county’s first new school to open since the updated Central High School in 2009. Heard also is the first of three new elementary schools to be built under the current special purpose local option sales tax, with construction underway on a new school off Shurling Drive and another school set to be built at the old Morgan Elementary site starting in May.
“It’s a quality educational space,” Daniel said. “We’ve got a product that’s going to be easy to maintain. It’s appealing. It’s going to give us lots of years of good service.”
Stanley cited bigger classrooms as an asset but also a larger lunchroom area, which is connected to the school’s gymnasium with a retractable wall available in between. While the old Heard cafeteria had capacity for just one line of students, the newer, more aesthetically pleasing eating space has multiple serving lines, which will allow students to get their food more quickly.
In addition, the classrooms, offices and even closets are equipped with better connectivity for computers, and each classroom has a Smart board projection device. That allows for interactive learning, where work can be done on the whiteboard -- even by touch -- and saved to a computer.
“We can provide more opportunities, the technology especially,” Stanley said.
Matt McCollum has twin 6-year-old daughters, Ava and Emily, who are first-graders at Heard.
He also attended school there himself, as did his father.
McCollum noted the “openness” of the gym and lunchroom space, which can be used for separate presentations or even one large gathering. While he noted that it was “a little sad” to see the rural area in south Bibb County developing as it has, he was glad to see the new school.
“I always like to see work here in Macon,” he said. “Schools need to be happy, not so gloomy.”
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.