By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Another high school will open in Oxford.
Oxford-University School, which now goes from pre-K through fifth grade, has started work on a new 25-acre campus donated near the Grand Oaks subdivision off Highway 7 South.
Phase 1′s three buildings will allow it to add one grade per year beginning in fall 2010, graduating its first seniors in 2016. Phase 2 is planned to begin immediately after the first, adding more academic space and eventually baseball and football fields.
“We’ve had a pent-up demand for years,” said school spokesman Mike Ussery.
A private school that “preserves a Christian tradition” but “respects and welcomes all religious beliefs,” OUS operates from a steep, seven-acre campus across Lamar Boulevard from Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. It has frequently varied the number of grades it offered depending on space configurations.
“I think it got up as high as the ninth grade a few years ago,” Ussery said. “It would always have good numbers until the upper grades, because people knew they didn’t have room for a high school.”
Since Oxford and Lafayette County public schools both enjoy good reputations, why is there a need for OUS?
“So many people are coming to Oxford from other areas where they are used to (having) an alternative to the public school system,” Ussery said. “It’s been a thorn in the side of Oxford because it didn’t have that independent alternative school. Some people simply want a world-class education for their kids.”
OUS officials are conducting a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign. According to chairman pro tempore Mike Lewis, it will support not only the construction, but also a new outreach to families of varying economic means.
“In addition to the building campaign, we are supporting a number of scholarships,” he said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.