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Back to school: Journey begins in Madison

MADISON — Away with the old school way of doing things and in with the new.

Madison’s brand-new $51 million, 170,000 square-foot Journey Middle School celebrated its grand opening – just in time for back to school – with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.

Journey is Madison’s 12th middle school serving students grade 6-8.

Ribbon-cutting at the new Journey Middle School (256 Today)

Hundreds of kids of all ages – those about to start school at Journey, those who will soon be moving up to middle school to attend Journey, and probably a few recent middle school graduates and parents envious they just missed the new digs – all gathered for the ribbon-cutting and open-ended tours of the school on Celtic Drive.

Under a scorching summer sun, Tim Holtcamp, president of the Madison City Board of Education; Madison City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols; and members of the Madison City Council and Madison Chamber of Commerce joined Mayor Paul Finley; Sen. Tom Butler; Rep. Phil Rigsby; and Madison County Commissioner Steve Haraway for the ceremony and ribbon cutting.

Holtcamp said he is aware of how eager Madison students and their parents have been waiting for the school to open.

Entering Journey Middle School (256 Today)

“This school began construction two years ago and if you look at this building in the background, it has been well worth the wait,” he said. “But this really started 25 years ago before we were officially a district.

“This community has supported Madison City Schools, and devoted time, energy and tax money to this project, and because of our ad valorem initiatives and strong sales tax receipts we have another jewel to add to Madison City Schools like the one you see behind us.”

Nichols thanked the community for stepping up.

“To quote Michelle (Epling, executive director of the Madison Chamber), ‘Madison City Schools are the shining star of our city,'” he said. “So, we wake up each day knowing we can reach the potential we know is coming with enrollment.

New Science Lab at Journey Middle School (256 Today)

“Our motto is to empower all our students. This facility is a facility that truly will do that; a place where our students are engaged, enthusiastic and empowered to be absolutely the best they can be.”

Journey Principal Dr. Treva Stewart said the faculty and staff worked hard to prepare for this academic year.

“Our goal is to create an awe-inspiring academic experience for all our middle school students,” she said. “We are looking forward to a wonderful and successful year … because as Dr. Nichols said, our goal was always to empower and inspire our students for academic achievement.”

Finley addressed potential traffic problems with the new school in the first few days and weeks, but he said he is proud of the city and what it has accomplished.

“You know it’s a wonderful problem to have when everyone wants to move to your city,” said Finley. “Every mayor, every city council wishes they have that, but if you don’t work together, growth will overcome you and you can’t be successful.”

Finley said they are redoing the road system and adding a school might require parents be overly patient the first couple of days and weeks.

“I want to thank our parents because this school system you have here is phenomenal,” he said. “Our parents are invested – they invested their money and then invested their kids. This doesn’t happen without them.”

Finley concluded with a challenge for the new Journey students.

“We can do whatever we want to put wonderful schools in place, but it’s up to you guys too. To quote the great philosopher B.B. King,” he said to laughter, “’the beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.’”

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