New Jones Wheat Elementary School is in home stretch of construction

Published 12:33 am Saturday, September 27, 2014

The new Jones Wheat  Elementary School is in the home stretch of construction, leaving students and  administration excited for opening day on Oct. 9

The new Jones Wheat
Elementary School is in the home stretch of construction, leaving students and
administration excited for opening day on Oct. 9

Almost every window in the building is laminated with two layers of glass and a plastic membrane between them for blast-proof safety.

The front doors can be magnetically locked to keep unfriendly visitors from coming inside.

The gymnasium has a filter system that cleans toxic air and produces clean, breathable oxygen.

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Describing some of the safety features in the new Jones-Wheat Elementary School may sound similar to a bomb shelter, but principal Dr. Larry Clark couldn’t be more proud of the secure learning environment his students will experience when the doors open Thursday, Oct. 9.

The project, funded by EPLOST, has taken a year to complete. Looking back, Clark is pleased with the fruition of the Decatur County Board of Education and the countless volunteers.

“It’s really neat to see all of our dreams become a reality,” Clark said. “We have spent a lot of hours laying things out, planning and making changes to fit the needs of our kids.”

And it’s the kids that are the main focus of building the school in the first place. When the project was proposed more than a year ago, the country was still suffering from a devastating economic crisis. Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield didn’t let that stop Decatur County students from having the best learning experience possible.

“An easy thing to have done would be to say we have to watch how we spend things and cut corners,” DCBOE Director of Technology Steve Dunn said. “ With leadership under Dr. Rayfield, he said our children deserve the best education we can deliver and the best opportunities. He challenged us to focus on the children.”

Forty-two of the classrooms are equipped with SMART Board technology, allowing students to write and digitally interact with material on the white boards. Teachers can use their smartphones or iPads to control what’s on the board or have a student answer a question from their desk.

Two computer labs alone make up 54 of the 379 computers in the building, putting the most current learning technology at student’s fingertips.

Large canvas art is hung throughout the halls depicting gorgeous nature scenes from Decatur County and the rest of Georgia.

“Our PTO has been working on this for quite some time, and one of the main things we were looking for is quality artwork,” Clark said.

Other features include a full media center, music classroom with the latest technology and a cafeteria with two serving lines, a teacher dining room, sound system and a video projector.

In the event of a school-wide emergency, Clark can take control of every SMART Board in the school, regardless of whether it’s turned on or off, and display messages and instructions to the classrooms.

Sunday, a formal dedication will be held in the new JWES gymnasium from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will be able to here several speakers and students present to the audience and time will be dedicated to tour the school.