Students, staff settle into new St. Simons Elementary building

Katy Ginn, principal of St. Simons Elementary, stood almost exactly above the spot on campus where the school’s playground once sat.

In its place today is a two-story, recently constructed school building.

St. Simons Elementary staff and students moved into their new school building when they returned from the Christmas holiday break. The building is connected to the school’s original 1944 structure on Ocean Boulevard.

Parents toured the new site for the first time last week during an open house Portfolio Night.

“It’s really beautiful,” Ginn said during a walk through the new building. “We have pre-K through second on the ground floor, along with a new media center, a new art room and a new music room.”

The third through fifth grade classrooms are on the second floor.

The new media center on the ground floor is an open, airy, light-filled space thanks to a two-story window that looks out on what will eventually be the new playground and track.

Students have quickly fallen in love with the new media center, said Heather Marshall, media special at St. Simons Elementary.

“We love it, absolutely love it,” she said.

Construction work is ongoing at the school, and the next phases of work will include the demolition of several buildings and the construction of a new gym, kitchen and administrative wing.

McKnight Construction is overseeing the ESPLOST IV funded project, which is scheduled to be completed in five phases. The guaranteed maximum price of each phase is being approved by the Glynn County Board of Education as the project progresses.

Construction of the two-story building was included in the third phase of work.

The new construction does not add student capacity to the school. However, most of the classrooms are much larger than before. This is especially true for the new pre-K, music and art rooms.

All of the pre-K through second grade classrooms have their own bathrooms as well, and most classrooms now have new furniture.

St. Simons Elementary staff were able to provide input and feedback during the design process, Ginn said, and they’ve worked closely with the construction teams to ensure work could continue while school is in session.

The original building at the front of the school houses the cafeteria, Ocean Lab and other classroom spaces. The building will be renovated, but its significantly historic elements will be preserved.

“There’s a lot of tradition and a lot of nostalgia about the older buildings coming down,” Ginn said. “It was definitely time and it was needed, but preserving the front hall and the face of St. Simons Elementary is important to the community and all of the alumni of the school as well.”

St. Simons Elementary and Oglethorpe Point Elementary, the two island schools, will host their annual fundraiser, Super Dolphin Day, on Feb. 25. The event includes a One Mile Fun Run, a 5K and a 10K.

For more information about the event, email [email protected] or call 912-242-1628.