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‘A new beginning:’ Forsyth County Schools celebrates opening of New Hope Elementary
New Hope
Principal Laura Webb, alongside Forsyth County Schools and state leaders, cuts the ribbon to officially open New Hope Elementary to the community on Saturday, July 23, 2022. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Principal Laura Webb stood outside of New Hope Elementary’s front doors on Saturday, July 23, alongside Forsyth County Schools leaders, with a huge smile on her face as she cut the ribbon to officially open the school to the community.

Before the ribbon cutting, school and state representatives held a grand opening ceremony in the building’s auditorium to commemorate the county’s 23rd elementary school, which will serve more than 900 students when the school year starts on Thursday, Aug. 4.

FCS Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden kicked off the ceremony by thanking the district’s facilities team, Smallwood Architects and Bowen and Watson Construction for their work in making the 148,000-square-foot school located on the west side of Castleberry Road a reality.

Most of all, he said he wanted to thank the community.

“We would not have this facility without the support of our citizens of Forsyth County, and it’s greatly appreciated,” Bearden said.

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New Hope Elementary School. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods also thanked district leaders and the Forsyth County Board of Education for their work in bringing the school to the community, describing New Hope as a state-of-the-art elementary school with the perfect name to match the determination all students need following the pandemic.

“Our primary mission still is bringing hope,” Woods said. “Bringing hope to the next generation of young people that will enter this school for the first time. And looking at what it means preparing these kids for life.”

Woods said that mission is never accomplished on its own. It takes a team of passionate teachers, staff members and leaders to ensure students find success in a school. And it takes a great principal.

Bearden told the crowd of parents, students and residents at the ceremony that when the school was first approved for construction, they knew they had to find the right leader.

“And we did just that,” Bearden said. “Laura Webb, our principal, has done a masterful job this last year, planning, working with contractors, hiring an incredible team of professionals, working with parents and our business partners to prepare for this day.”

Webb said she would not have been able to plan for the opening of New Hope without the support shown from her family, administrative team, school staff and district leaders.

New Hope was designed with a spacious gym, colorful media center, flexible seating and large outdoor courtyard to “make learning fun.”

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Principal Laura Webb speaks at the grand opening ceremony for New Hope Elementary School on Saturday, July 23, 2022. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Following the ribbon cutting, families were able to see these features as they explored the new building on self-guided tours. Kids picked up plastic construction hats in the wide hallway serving as the school’s entrance before gliding down the halls and immediately taking an interest in the seating throughout the school.

Students sat on benches, seats shaped to look like a caterpillar and leaned on tables situated throughout the hallways before making their way to the newly decorated classrooms to meet their teachers.

A kindergarten teacher, Morgan Watson, said she had been working for days to make sure her classroom was decorated and ready-to-go for families visiting her during the grand opening.

This is her first year as a teacher after graduating from Forsyth Central High School and finishing college, and she couldn’t believe that she had the opportunity to start her career off in a brand-new school in Forsyth.

“I think Laura Webb has done an incredible job,” Watson said. “I think the staff here is just incredible, and this is going to be a really great school year. I’m really excited for all the things we have planned here.”

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From there, families walked across the large courtyard, situated in the middle of the school, to make their way to the media center where kids played in swiveling stools and colorful chairs.

At the same time, other students made their way to the music room where they could bang on drums and play with xylophones.

Webb said that each of these spaces will not only promote fun and engaging learning but will “position our students for success.”

“And success is something we do not take for granted,” Webb said. “So many children are never afforded the opportunity for success. The name of our school, the name New Hope, invokes the history of some of these children.”

She explained to families that many African American children in Forsyth County during the late 1800s and early 1900s were forced to attend separate schools where they received limited tools and resources for education.

New Hope was the name of one of the first and largest schools for African American and Black students in Forsyth County. More than 40 students attended the school on land donated by Thomas Roper, one of the most successful Black landowners in Forsyth around 1910.

But African American families in the county were forced to abandon many of these schools, along with their homes, belongings, and businesses, when they were driven out of the county in 1912.

“We know we can’t change our history, but we can acknowledge it and we can vow that history will not repeat itself,” Webb said. “That is why we are incredibly proud to be the new New Hope.

“Our New Hope will be a new beginning,” she continued. “Our New Hope will welcome all students, families and visitors from our community. And our New Hope will be a place where everyone feels respected, valued and connected. The future of our New Hope is, indeed, bright, and we cannot wait to get started.”

New Hope
The crowd at New Hope Elementary's grand opening hold their hands up to their hearts during the national anthem as members of VFW Post 9143 raised the flag outside of the school for the first time. - photo by Sabrina Kerns