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Forsyth County Schools celebrates half-way point in New Hope Elementary construction
New Hope
The construction crew places the final steel beam into place during the topping out ceremony for New Hope Elementary School, signaling the half-way point in the school's construction. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Forsyth County Schools celebrated the half-way point in New Hope Elementary School’s construction with a topping out ceremony Tuesday, June 15, in which they placed the final steel beam atop the building’s foundation.

As guests gathered at the construction site located at 4810 Castleberry Road in Cumming, many of them grabbed a marker and signed the last beam, commemorating the moment before Drew Watson, president of Bowen & Watson Construction, introduced everyone to the ceremony.

He announced that he, along with his team at Bowen & Watson, are incredibly excited to see how New Hope’s construction has progressed.

“Eight months ago, nearly today, we were standing across the site about ready to break ground, and a lot has changed over that time,” Watson said. “We’ve moved about 300,000 cubic yards of dirt, poured 4,000 cubic yards of concrete, laid about 45,000 blocks and have set about 450 tons of steel.”

Now, in another eight months, the construction crew plans to have the school completely finished in time for the 2022-23 school year.

FCS Superintendent Jeff Bearden spoke at the ceremony, introducing other district leaders in attendance, including Board of Education Chair Kristin Morrissey and Tom Cleveland, who represents District 3.

He also thanked FCS Director of Construction Tom Wening and his team for the hard work in getting New Hope to this point in its construction.

“We take great pride, and I know Tom takes great pride, in Forsyth County Schools and getting our projects done on time,” Bearden said. “It’s so important that we can get our schools ready and equipped for students next fall. That will be here before we know it; we know how quickly a year goes, and we will be welcoming students to New Hope Elementary.”

Jeff Miller, an associate at Smallwood Architects, also thanked Wening and his team for their help during construction as teams have struggled to find materials and equipment due to shortages caused by storms in Texas and the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, Miller said Smallwood is proud to be part of the project in helping to design a unique school. The 148,000-square-foot building will include 74 classrooms, all with windows, with a capacity for 1,100 students.

New Hope
New Hope Elementary Principal Laura Webb signs the final beam before it is put in place. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

The 23rd elementary school in Forsyth County is expected to help relieve “current and future” overcrowding at Whitlow, Vickery Creek, Shiloh Point and Midway Elementary Schools.

Before the end of the ceremony, FCS leaders and Bowen & Watson presented a personalized hard hat to New Hope Principal Laura Webb, inviting her to visit the site for a tour. Webb just recently moved on from her tenure as principal at Big Creek Elementary to begin planning for New Hope’s opening.

“One of the things Laura is known for, and I know she’s going to do the same thing here at New Hope, is building a great culture and climate for students, staff and community,” Bearden said. “It’s the reason we hired her for this job, and I know she’s going to do outstanding work.”

New Hope, a $28 million project, was funded through a bond approved by Forsyth County residents in 2018 along with other new schools in the county. Bearden thanked the residents of Forsyth County for their support and contributions to the school system before Bowen & Watson placed the final beam atop the building’s foundation.

“We could not do this without the support we received from our citizens,” Bearden said.

New Hope
Forsyth County Schools leaders pose in front of what will soon be New Hope Elementary School. - photo by Sabrina Kerns