NORTHAMPTON: Groundbreaking held on new complex for middle and high schools

EASTERN SHORE POST/STEFANIE JACKSON Northampton High School Principal Heather Marsh, third from right, and County Administrator Charlie Kolakowski, to her right, among other dignitaries, symbolically break ground on the high and middle school project.

BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —

A groundbreaking ceremony for Northampton County’s middle and high school complex was held Wednesday, March 6, in the Northampton High School gym, in Eastville.

“Today’s groundbreaking is not just about laying bricks or mortar, it’s about building dreams and opportunities for generations to come,” said Superintendent Lisa Martin.

The ceremony was the culmination of more than five years of work by the Northampton High School Revitalization Committee, which included both county and school officials.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes to conceptualize a building that our students and our educators deserve, one that’s beautiful, one that’s cutting-edge, and one that is going to take … our students … further,” said Northampton School Board Chair Liz Jones.

Betsy Mapp, chair of the Northampton Board of Supervisors, introduced John Coker, who was chair when the $81.3 million contract was awarded and who has served on the high school revitalization committee since it was formed in 2018.

Coker said that when the project is complete, Northampton’s middle school students will finally get what they “deserve … a first-class, up-to-date, educational, and safe facility.”

The project will include construction of a new cafeteria and auditorium and a separate wing and gym for the middle school, which has been using space in Northampton High School for about 15 years, since Northampton Middle School closed in Machipongo.

He recognized his wife, Martina Coker, for leading the campaign in 2020 to pass a referendum for an additional 1% sales tax to fund school capital projects like the middle and high school.

Others recognized included:

— Martin and current Northampton school board members Jones, Jo Ann Molera, Helene Doughty, Betty Borden, Jill Bieri, Ian Brenson, and Joseph Andrews

— Former Superintendent Eddie Lawrence and former school board members William “Skip” Oakley, Paul Bibbins, and the late Maxine Rasmussen

— Northampton County Administrator Charlie Kolakowski and current supervisors Mapp, Coker, Dixon Leatherbury, Ernest Smith, and Oliver Bennett, who is also a Northampton teacher

— Former supervisors Spencer Murray and Dave Fauber

— Northampton Finance Director John Chandler, Northampton schools Chief Financial Officer Brook Thomas, and Northampton schools Chief of Operations Chris Truckner.

Maureen McElfresh, representing the project’s designer, Woolpert Inc., and Keith Hathaway, representing the general contractor, M.B. Kahn, also spoke.

The Northampton middle and high school chorus performed under the direction of chorus teacher Caroline Gibson, who also sang the national anthem at the opening of the ceremony.

The Northampton middle and high school band, conducted by band teacher Brad Ford, performed several selections.

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