The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen LOOKING FORWARD: Hot Springs School District Superintendent Stephanie Nehus addressed students and guests Monday at Langston Aerospace and Environmental Studies Magnet School. Nehus said the building process should take about 18 months.

The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen LOOKING FORWARD: Hot Springs School District Superintendent Stephanie Nehus addressed students and guests Monday at Langston Aerospace and Environmental Studies Magnet School. Nehus said the building process should take about 18 months.

HSSD breaks ground

By Jay Bell
This article was published November 14, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

The Hot Springs School District hosted a ceremony Monday afternoon to mark the start of construction on the future site of Langston Aerospace and Environmental Studies Magnet School.

The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen TROJAN PRIDE: Students of Langston Aerospace and Environmental Studies Magnet School say the Pledge of Allegianc...

The ceremony was held in the parking lot of the school's current location on Chestnut Street where the new building will be constructed. The new site is the same location as the former Langston High School.

Hot Springs Superintendent Stephanie Nehus joined the district in 2009 when she began as principal of Langston for three years. Nehus thanked the community for approving a millage increase in September 2016 to fund the new construction.

"Over the next 18 months, we will have the privilege to watch a brand-new Langston elementary building be constructed," Nehus said. "Our faculty, students, families and community deserve the best facilities we can provide in order to educate our students to reach their highest potential."

Voters approved a millage increase of 4.4 mills and the extension of 10.8 debt service mills for 15 additional years by a narrow margin of 1,087-1,041. The approval came 16 months after a proposed 2-mill increase was rejected by a vote of 627-563.

Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe hailed the district for helping his children find success. He said the district's Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs prepared them for the rest of their education.

"This structure we are going to be building, while it is bricks and mortar, is going to provide an environment that will allow all of these young kids and those coming behind them to learn the cutting edge of aerospace and environmental studies," McCabe said.

"In this, along with the direction the superintendent is taking in other areas, Hot Springs School District is alive and well and continues to meet the needs of our community. That is so important in that there is something for everybody at the Hot Springs School District."

The first Langston High School was built in 1914 on Silver Street and named in honor of John Mercer Langston, an African-American abolitionist, activist, attorney, diplomat, educator and politician elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Langston High School was widely respected and accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. A modern building was completed in 1964, only four years before the district integrated Langston students into Hot Springs High School.

"As we stand here on this historic site, formerly Langston High School, we are reminded of the impact this school has made in the community in the past and how it continues to impact our community today," said Langston Principal Eileen Ellars said.

"We must never lose sight of the significance that Langston has had on the lives of all those who have walked the halls of Langston High School in the past and those who have attended, and are still attending, Langston magnet elementary. This is a school rich with history and incredible memories that we will continue to embrace in our new building as we move forward."

The millage increase and extension will generate more than $54 million for new construction, including almost $32 million for a new junior high campus next to Hot Springs World Class High School on Emory Street with a 2,200-seat multipurpose arena and a 1,000-seat auditorium. The junior high and a new $14-million facility for Langston accounted for about 85 percent of the district's planned projects.

"Langston and this site have such an important legacy and history," said Ann Hill, president of the Hot Springs School Board. "We know the new facilities are going to do justice to the history of this school."

The scope of planning delayed the start of construction on the district's two largest projects. The district has yet to break ground on the junior high.

Plans call for the relocation of Gardner STEM Magnet School and Oaklawn Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School and the dissolution of Hot Springs Intermediate School. All four magnet elementary schools will extend to sixth grade instead of fourth grade and grades 7-9 will attend the Hot Springs Junior Academy junior high.

Local on 11/14/2017

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