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New year, ‘new’ school in Locust Grove

When Orange County third-graders return to school this year, they will report to a “new” old building.

The previous Locust Grove Middle School on State Route 20, adjacent to Locust Grove Primary, will reopen as Locust Grove Elementary School, serving grades three through five as well as Head Start students.

The facility has been shuttered since 2011, when the new Middle School on Flat Run Road was opened.

That building has been serving both elementary and middle school children since, keeping the two groups isolated on separate floors. Keeping the two groups separated was a concern strongly voiced by parents when the school opened.

Officials have estimated that using the combined facility has saved the county some $750,000 over the past three years.

This year, however, as the student population grew too large to keep the older and younger students in their own separate areas, the School Board listed reopening the shuttered school as one of their top priorities.

Elementary principal Jesse Magruder noted that the reopened building will serve 400 to 500 students this year, including Head Start classes. The building, virtually identical in layout to Prospect Heights Middle in Orange, was designed to accommodate 750.

At an open house Aug. 15 to give students and parents the chance to visit and get acquainted with the school, Magruder said he was pleased with the reopened facility. “I am so thankful and happy to be in this building,” he commented. “It is going to be a wonderful place for children, and we are ready to go.”

School Board chairwoman Judy Carter, who was present for the open house, added, “I am so very, very excited. This is a wonderful day for the students of Orange County.”

“When you walk in here,” Carter added, “you hear the teachers saying, ‘We are so glad to be home!’ It is wonderful!”

Magruder credited many groups and individuals with making the reopening possible.

“Thanks to the Locust Grove community, the Orange County community, our School Board, our Board of Supervisors and the at-large community,” he said. “You have hit a home run.”

The students will arrive Thursday to meet their teachers, and school officially starts Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Dan McFarland: