Wayne County Public Schools officials and commissioners joined former graduates, Mount Olive Mayor Joe Scott and others Tuesday in a ground-breaking ceremony at the site of Southern Wayne High School’s soon-to-be-built gymnasium.
Construction of the gym began in October but Nov. 26 marked the new gym’s official ground-breaking. The building is set to be completed by October 2020, right around the start of the 2020-21 basketball season.
“This new gym is such a huge accomplishment and this will be a gym not only for the students of Southern Wayne, but for the Southern Wayne community as well,” said Tim Harrell, assistant superintendent of support services for Wayne County Public Schools.
The gym is located in between the school and the left-field wall of the baseball field. A paved parking lot is set to accompany the new facility and the crowds it may draw.
“It’s a long time coming, so many people have so much time and effort into bringing this gym here and I’m so happy for the community,” said Principal Kevin Smith. “I’m happy for my students because this is going to be a state-of-the-art facility and this is something our kids can be proud of.
“It’s going to make a huge deal in how soon we can get our kids home as well,” he added.
Southern Wayne is a 3A high school and during basketball season, four different basketball teams are practicing. With only one gym, there are nights where some athletes are not getting home until 9:30 p.m. because four teams have to share gym time. With the new facility and more space, teams can hold multiple practices at one time and will not have to keep students after school for such a long time, according to Smith.
“All in all, it is almost overwhelming the impact something as simple as building a gym can have on a community, but I think that is something we are going to see when we finally cut the ribbon on this place,” said Smith.