ALMOST FINISHED: NASD planning for dedication of new high school, middle school

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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NATCHEZ — After some seven years of planning and at least two years of building, Natchez Adams School District is drawing close to opening a  new high school adjacent to the old high school campus on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive. The old campus has been renovated for a consolidated Natchez Middle School.

The Natchez Adams School District Board of Trustees wants to dedicate the new Natchez High School and rededicate the renovated Natchez Middle School campus before the end of the school year, sometime in May.

During a special called meeting Tuesday, the school board went over plans for the ceremony, which includes appearances of Mississippi Legislators, Natchez and Adams County elected officials, a presentation of colors by Natchez High School JROTC members, and musical performances by students.

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The board also discussed the final touches on the campuses, particularly the signage and the guard house that serve as the gateway to the high school and middle school campuses.

After receiving feedback from the Natchez Planning Commission regarding the sign last fall, the school district went back to the drawing board and came up with better sign options by looking at other signs posted in front of schools. Members narrowed down their choices to the top three and will choose one to present to the Planning Commission, officials said.

Top three examples of signs reviewed by the Natchez Adams School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday for the new Natchez High School and Middle School campuses.

“I know that the first one I put in there for you would definitely pass the planning commission based on the feedback we received, with the name of the school being overstated, the sponsors being understated and the digital sign being a certain size,” NASD public engagement coordinator Tony Fields said. “With whatever we do, we’re going to make sure that it is uniform with the new school and has the brick and stone to match that.”

Fields showed the board three signs from the internet. The first has an arch shape between two brick posts with the name of the school at the top, a digital sign and sponsorship signs beneath it. Another has a horizontal shape surrounded by brickwork with the name of the school above a digital sign.

Some board members, including LlJuna Weir and Brenda Robinson, said they favored the second sign presented from Middletown high school and middle schools, which includes another horizontal brick rectangle with the school names presented on opposite legs of a large letter “M” to the right of the sign and a digital screen to the left.

“Where they have the ‘M’ for Middleton, I think we could take the ‘N’ for Natchez and get a mock-up,” Weir said. “I like that because we could be inclusive to both schools.”

Superintendent Fred Butcher asked for the board’s permission to tear down “the ugly guardhouse” currently stationed in front of the middle school and for it to be completely rebuilt with brickwork to match the new high school, giving the welcome sign and guardhouse a uniform look with the new building.

In light of a deadly school shooting that took place at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week, board member Dianne Bunch said that while aesthetics are good, it’s important that a guardhouse be intact and up to par.

Six people — including three children — were killed in the Nashville grade school shooting. The suspected assailant was reportedly killed by police within minutes of the first call of an active shooter.

“After what happened in Nashville, that person just walked right into the school,” she said. “I know it was a small private school and they don’t have what we have but nothing makes us more aware that the importance of that station is growing in today’s society.”

The project is expected to take eight to 10 days and would be done in-house using leftover brick from the high school, Butcher said.