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GES Cuts the Ribbon on New Era

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Monday morning, Aug. 26 will be a momentous day for the Grapeland Independent School District and the dawn of a new era. For well over 50 years, elementary students in Grapeland have gone to school at 210 Third St.

When the bell rings on Monday, however, the students, faculty and staff will be in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility, approximately one hundred yards from the old building.

To celebrate the school’s grand opening, a ribbon cutting ceremony – hosted by the Grapeland Area Chamber of Commerce – was held on Thursday, Aug. 22.

The festivities got underway at 4:45 pm as Grapeland ISD Superintendent Don Jackson addressed the hundreds of parents, students and community members on hand for the event.

“It is my honor to be here today on this momentous occasion where history is being made – where Grapeland ISD takes a giant leap forward with such a beautiful building. We are so proud and honored to have our tax payers, and our school board, to believe in us and to give us the opportunity to serve our children in this building,” the superintendent said.

As he continued, Jackson recognized the GISD Board of Trustees, Grapeland Mayor Balis Dailey, Vulcraft’s Dan Wilson, The Messenger newspaper, the Houston County Courier and Grapeland Chamber President Brandon Bridges.

GISD Board VP Melissa Cobb followed Jackson at the podium and provided the invocation for the ceremony. She was followed by the architect of the new facility, Hudson Henderson, along with Danny Berry of the construction firm, Berry and Clay.  

After a masterful trumpet solo by Moises Santos, the district’s band director, former GISD Board President Eddie Childress addressed the crowd.

“Wow! What a great day!” Childress exclaimed. “It’s been a long time in coming. It seems like we put a lot of hours in over the last four years or so. I want to recognize someone who couldn’t be here today. Gregg Spivey was the superintendent at the time we started this process. I spoke with Greg a little while ago and he said he was sorry he couldn’t be here.”

Childress added he and the former superintendent reminisced about how the district had persevered after the first attempt at getting a bond proposal for a new elementary school failed.

“We took about a year off, but he and I had the same thought process. We were going to listen to the stake holders and move forward. Perseverance paid off as the voters passed the bond. The opportunity we will have for these children to have an education that is bar none. We cannot any longer say ‘because of a facility’ or ‘because they don’t have an opportunity’ because now, they have all that. I am so excited for the children who will be in this facility, for the teachers and the administrators. But most of all, I’m excited for our community and what this facility means. In a small town, something like this is big folks. It’s not little. We’re excited,” he said.     

The GHS cheerleaders followed the former board president and kept the crowd fired up for the ribbon cutting.

Current GISD Board President James Martin was the next to speak and said he felt “… this is the most exciting day since we moved up here in 2007. As Eddie said, it took four years but it felt like 10 to me. It was a long journey. I want to thank Eddie Childress for his vision and continuing to push and coming back to the taxpayers with a different idea. Just his leadership and mentorship for the entire board – I just want to thank him for that. It is such a blessing for the community to have a man like Eddie.”

Martin also recognized the Grapeland Noon Lions Club for their upcoming assistance with traffic flow during the first few days of school.

Elementary Principal Cassie Satterwhite spoke next and said, “As a graduate of Grapeland ISD and now as a parent, I am so thankful for your commitment to educate your students.”

As the ceremony began to wind down Grapeland Area Chamber of Commerce President Brandon Bridges took a moment to recognize chamber members before moving the crowd outside to cut the ribbon and to signify the new Grapeland Elementary School was open for learning.      

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.