Blue Ridge community marks opening of new school

HARPERS FERRY — Officials, dignitaries, board members and students celebrated the grand opening of the Blue Ridge Primary School on the Blue Ridge Elementary Campus in Harpers Ferry last weekend.

“It’s an exciting time to open the new building and put all the elementary students in a traditional facility in lieu of portable classrooms,” said Susan Wall, superintendent of Jefferson County Board of Education.

School Building Authority member Eric Lewis holds the front door open for Blue Ridge Primary School Principal Nicole Shaffer and her son, Emerson, 4, and her parents Judy and Ross Simpson, following the formal opening of the school on Saturday.

The cost of the new facility is approximately $8.5 million, with $7.5 million coming from the School Building Authority and $1 million from local funds, said Wall.

The new 48,000 square-foot school is in a campus-type setting and will provide space for 275 pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade students.

The old building will be used for grades two through five and will also be a campus-type setting, said Wall.

Wall said both schools would be independent of each other but working together.

“Each has a principal and cafeteria. And each has a mascot,” said Wall.

The mascot for the new school is a lion cub. The old school’s mascot is a mountain lion.

Wall credits the community’s strength, adding it is one with strong parent and community involvement.

“It’s very exciting to see such pride packed into an audience,” Wall said.

Members of the Jefferson County school system and board of education, Delegate John Doyle, Sen. John Unger and Delegate Tiffany Lawrence, spoke about the accomplishment of building the new school.

Lawrence brought greetings from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and presented the school with a flag flown over the Capitol.

Members of the VFW No. 3522 presented an American flag and said they would return the first day of school to raise the flag with the children.

Nicole Shaffer is the principal of the new school.

Shaffer presented a book to some of the special guests that was written by the students.

From the beginning of the construction of the new building, students documented the first shovel of dirt being dug to large equipment moving land on to the construction of the school.

The official ribbon cutter for the event was Taylor Derrickson, who was on hand when the dirt was first turned on the new building.

“Derrickson shoveled the first dirt from the site and came back to cut the ribbon,” said Wall said.

Wall said the next project is the construction of the Harpers Ferry Middle School.

“With the construction of that school we will have reached our goal in providing all students in the county with traditional structures,” Wall said.

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