Jarrod E. Stephens
The Ashland Beacon
If you’ve traveled along U.S. 23 through Raceland in the past few months, then there’s no way that you could overlook the newest addition to the Raceland-Worthington Independent School District. In the coming days, an idea that budded in the minds of former Raceland administrators will become a reality for the Raceland community.
Now in his eighth year as Superintendent of Raceland-Worthington Independent Schools, Larry Coldiron explained the project’s earliest visionaries. “A new middle school has been in the plans for this school district for over a decade. Former Superintendent Frank Melvin made this his top priority, and he spent many years chasing this dream. It has been a long process and there have been many influential people involved in making this happen. There are so many people to thank, but at the top of the list is our community, who four years ago allowed us to enact a recallable nickel tax to help fund this middle school.”
The district’s needs became evident in recent years as an aging school began to reach a point where replacement was the only real option. To explain the need Coldiron stated, “This project was a tremendous priority due to the fact that Worthington Elementary School was such an aging facility. 93 years ago, Worthington Elementary was built, Calvin Coolidge was the President of the United States. In 2011, the state of Kentucky hired a consulting firm to evaluate every school building in the state. Worthington Elementary was ranked in the top 10 to be replaced.”
While the new middle school was the focus of the construction project, other campus items were also repaired since bids came in lower than projected. New access roads with lighted sidewalks, along with a new track, new bleachers, updated playground at Campbell Elementary and upgraded fencing across the campus have certainly made the district shine. “We really feel like we checked a lot of our boxes with this campus project. The building is phenomenal, a state-of-the-art structure that will foster learning for another 90 years,” Coldiron said. The campus-wide project cost the district $16,685,000.
The public will get its first look inside the new middle school on Saturday, March 7 11 a.m. as the district is planning an open house. Once parents and students get a glimpse into the state-of-the-art science labs, classrooms and media center, the wait will have been worth it.
“We feel like our new touch-screen panels will be a really special touch. We have partnered with Lite Nite Technologies to include a touch-screen panel in every classroom as well as other areas throughout the building. Our students are 1:1, meaning they all currently have a Chromebook laptop, so this added technology initiative will help our students and teachers learn in a 21st century environment.”
Beginning on March 16 the students and staff at Worthington Elementary will embark upon a new chapter in Raceland’s history as they enter the doors of the new school for the first day of classes. As students move from the 93-year-old Worthington building to the new one it will be sort of like the moment that Dorothy first opens the door in the land of Oz and suddenly the world is in color. “At first, I am sure the students will be overwhelmed by the difference in size, and I fully expect to see some jaws dropping,” Worthington Principal Kyle Russell commented. Grades four through six will be housed in the school for the remainder of the 2020 school year and when the 2020-21 school year begins the building will contain third through eighth graders.
Projects such as the one that the Raceland School District has undertaken don’t materialize overnight and Superintendent Coldiron had a lot of people to whom he stated his gratitude. “A special thanks to Legislators, namely Sen. Robin Webb, Rep. Danny Bentley and former Rep. Rocky Adkins. Architect Edward Tucker and Associates have been a great partner in this project, and our Board of Education has really helped guide this project and see it to fruition.”
There will no doubt be some sentimental tears shed as the bells at Worthington Elementary ring for the last time. However, much like the evolution of today’s post-secondary education and workforce, change in our schools is inevitable and sometimes necessary. Principal Russell stated, “While there are teachers who have spent their entire careers at WES and are emotionally attached to it, I think they all understand this new building is a necessity.”
Raceland’s newest addition will help the district continue to produce the best educational opportunities for its well-deserving students while maintaining the district’s tight knit feeling. Superintendent Coldiron quotes former Superintendent John Stephens by saying, “Raceland Schools are the closest thing to a private school in the public-school sector.” It truly is a great day to be a Ram!