Oxford University School starts long-delayed construction

Education stockBy Errol Castens
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – The groundbreaking for Oxford-University School held five years ago proved a false start, but school officials say the current construction on a new campus is the real thing.

The 29-year-old elementary school had delayed construction because of a $1.2 million debt, but Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi purchased the longtime campus on South Lamar for $1.5 million, resolving the school’s debt woes.
“We had already been given the property for our new campus,” said OUS Board Chairman Doug Alexander, who has both a son and a grandson among the current students. He said that the school’s only debt now is for development of the new campus.

“We’ve raised enough money to make that a bankable deal,” he added.

The newest challenge for the school is that three new buildings must be completed in just weeks on the new 25-acre campus off Industrial Drive near Grand Oaks. Opening is slated for Aug. 19, Alexander said, with one structure for preschool/kindergarten classes, another for first through sixth grades and a third for administration, art, foreign languages, music and computer technology.

The new facilities will eliminate the steep climbs between buildings that students, staffers and parents made regularly on the old campus.

“We’re looking forward to brand new classrooms and moving to a pretty campus with rolling hills,” said Headmaster Tommy Naron.
Alexander said Oxford University School is “a private, independent school – open to any race, color or creed – whose emphasis is on teaching children who have in their minds that they’re going to college.” It is the only area school accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, and its students have scored far above national averages on recent standardized tests.

Several years ago OUS had announced plans to add high school grades, but Alexander said the school instead will continue to focus on the early grades.

“Part of our philosophy is that people’s academic future is determined way before the seventh grade. People who learn to read and comprehend early are much better prepared for higher grades,” he said. “You don’t change somebody in the ninth grade from a D student to a National Merit Scholar.”

errol.castens@journalinc.com