Groundbreaking held for $26M Page Middle School

by Kim Robins - Posted on Sep 25, 2013 - 12:53 PM

A small crowd gathered Monday afternoon for the groundbreaking at the site of the new $26 million Page Middle School on T.C. Walker Road. The school will house about 650 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students when it opens in 2015.

Photo: A groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the construction of the new Page Middle School was held Monday at the school’s T.C. Walker Road site. On the shovel line were, from left, Randy Burak, Louise Theberge, Ben Kiser, Garrey Curry, Scott Shorland, Jeff Harris, Duane Harver, Hugh Riley, Doug Amthor, Ginny Wilburn and children from Gloucester County Public Schools. Photo by Kim Robins

A groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the construction of the new Page Middle School was held Monday at the school’s T.C. Walker Road site. On the shovel line were, from left, Randy Burak, Louise Theberge, Ben Kiser, Garrey Curry, Scott Shorland, Jeff Harris, Duane Harver, Hugh Riley, Doug Amthor, Ginny Wilburn and children from Gloucester County Public Schools. Photo by Kim Robins

In his opening remarks, superintendent Ben Kiser said he and his family had just taken shelter in their home from an approaching tornado on April 16, 2011 when then county public works director Garrey Curry called. Curry told him emergency responders were on their way to Page.

Page Middle School was then located on Route 17 not far from its future site, and directly in the path of a tornado that first touched down in the Cedar Bush area on the York River and cut a swath across the county stretching to North Point at the Gloucester/Mathews county line.

The tornado struck early on a Saturday evening. "We were so fortunate children were not in the building," Kiser said. After viewing the destruction, school officials put together a plan for all sixth, seventh and eighth graders to share Peasley Middle School on a split schedule, and the displaced Page students were back in classrooms the next week.

In the fall, all county eighth graders relocated to a cluster of mobile classrooms on the Gloucester High School campus and all sixth and seventh graders remained at Peasley. That arrangement has continued and will remain in place until the new Page opens for the 2015-2016 school year.

Kiser said school officials told the community they would rebuild Page in two to four years, and that the division was on track to do so. "Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, Page Middle School is rising out of the debris," he said.