Students, teachers, parents, school officials and the community at large celebrated the opening of the Annex for Rockdale County High School on Tuesday in a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.
The new building, renovated from the former CJ Hicks Elementary School building, adds at least 13 state-of-the art classrooms, 11 labs, additional library space or more than 53,000 square feet of teaching space to RCHS and the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology.
The renovation of the Annex is just part of the overall renovation and expansion plan for RCHS, said Superintendent Dr. Sam King, which included adding new softball, baseball and lacrosse fields, a new gymnasium, and converting the current gym to classroom space.
"With the opening of this building, we have taken a big step toward the completion of these projects," said King.
He added that students were able to move from trailers into buildings because of the renovations.
About 375 students will be served by the annex this coming semester, according to Chief Operating Officer Phil Budensiek, but the building can serve more. The renovation is estimated to come in under the $4.9 million projected cost.
School Board Chairman Wales Barksdale pointed out the Annex renovation was funded by the school system's 1-cent sales tax known as SPLOST, which helped the RCPS remain one of four debt-free school systems in the state. He asked voters to support future SPLOST taxes as well.
RMSST Director Mary Ann Suddeth said having the additional space would allow the Magnet School to accept more students; it currently has 187 students enrolled and looks to have 230 next year.
"We have seen a rise in the number of students meeting the eligibility requirements over the past few years but have had to limit acceptance due to classroom and laboratory space," said Suddeth.
The equipment and new labs would help students conduct research in fields such as microbiology, molecular and cellular biology, environmental sciences, and chemical and material sciences, and engineering.
"We have an exceptional program located within Rockdale County High School that has been a model for others around the state, and we look forward to providing even more students with challenge, opportunity, and distinction."