By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
CUMBERLAND – The April 27, 2011, tornado destroyed East Webster High School but it did little to harm Wolverine pride.
Ground was broken for a new East Webster High School in Cumberland on Friday afternoon with a crowd of about 100 on hand. The 58,000-square-foot facility is slated to open for students in August 2013.
“I don’t know anyone who was around for the groundbreaking of the old East Webster High School,” Superintendent Jack Treloar told those gathered for Friday’s ceremony. “I don’t think anyone will be around for the groundbreaking of the next one. This is a wonderful and historic day for this community.”
The new high school is being built in two phases. Phase I will see a state-of-the-art facility erected for $6.083 million with construction set to begin immediately. Bids have not been let for a Phase II gymnasium with an estimated price tag of $2.5 million that will be located just north of the new high school.
East Webster High School was one of the first casualties in the April 2012 tornadoes that smashed the community in the early morning hours and then that afternoon devastated Chickasaw and Monroe counties.
Treloar pointed out the community sprang into action immediately after the tornado with students, teachers and classrooms moved to Wood Junior College in Mathiston just six days later.
“This community responded and proved how much this school means to them,” said Treloar.
The district obtained a $500,000 appropriation from the state and used that money, along with money from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, to fund its 25 percent match to land a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
East Webster High School was ranked High Performing based on 2011-12 state test scores. Those test scores ranked East Webster third in the state for small schools and 32nd out of 242 public high schools in Mississippi.
The district graduated 57 seniors Friday night.