By Amanda Hasty
Community members, city and Perry County administrators and Perry County School District 32 staff gathered on the lawn to hold a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for the district’s new Primary Center.
The new center will house students from kindergarten to second grade and will include a new gymnasium, which will serve as a storm safety shelter.
Assistant Superintendent Jeanie White called this gathering not a ceremony, but a celebration of the new things to come for the district. A large group of community members and educators gathered in 2015 to create a vision for the future of the school.
“A new building means that a new story begins,” White said.
She went on to explain that the first public school in Perryville was held in the old Methodist Church at the corner of East North and North Spring Street during the 1860s. The first teacher for the first students was Patrick Monahan.
In 1867, the center of the first public high school building was erected on the corner of Magnolia and West North Streets and consisted of three schoolrooms. By 1917, the new high school was built next to the original structure, which was then converted into the new grade school. The current Old Senior High building on College Street was completed in 1938.
From 1960 to 1966, a total of 19 smaller school districts were annexed into District 32, and in 1975 county voters approved a 1.2 million dollar bond issue to build a new high school building. It was opened in 1976.
“If these buildings could speak, what stories would they tell,” White said.
“The history and the memories, the triumphs and the defeats are all absorbed into the mortar and brick of each educational institution.”
Superintendent Andy Comstock stepped forward to thank the real people behind the success of this new endeavor for the district, the voters of the community who were willing to invest in the future of their children through their support of the school.
He shared that the next step towards the new center begins with the demolition of the preschool building.
Officials from both the city and county joined community members, school administration and staff as well as the kindergarten class of 2030. The kindergarteners will enter the new Primary Center as second graders following its completion. They were presented as the future leaders of the new center. Construction of the Primary Center is scheduled to be completed by the 2019-2020 school year.