A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Eastern Alamance High School (EAHS) on Monday morning, June 28, to kick off the construction of improvements to the school.
The bond request which set aside $150 million for improvements for schools in the Alamance Burlington School System (ABSS) was approved by Alamance County voters in 2018. Improvements to South Mebane Elementary and Pleasant Grove Elementary were already underway.
The upgrades to EAHS include: cafeteria expansion, six new classrooms, one new resource room and various renovations and improvements to existing school buildings, among various other improvements. The project’s estimated total cost is $11,657,249 and is estimated to be completed by May 2023.
Numerous city and county officials were present at the ceremony, such as Mebane Mayor Pro Tem Jill Auditori and City Councilmember Sean Ewing. Alamance County Board of Commissioners were represented by Chair John Paisley and Vice Chair Steve Carter. State Senator Amy Galey was in attendance, as well, along with several school board members and ABSS Superintendent Dr. Bruce Benson.
Will Burnette, rising senior at EAHS, gave the welcoming remarks, and Superintendent Benson and Alamance County Board of Education Chair Allison Gant spoke following Burnette.
In his speech, Dr. Benson spoke directly to Burnette and thanked him for attending, even though he’ll no longer be a student when the construction and renovations are complete.
“Will, thank you for being here today to take part in this special day,” Benson said. “You and your classmates will get to watch the renovations and new construction happen during your senior year and we hope that you will return when we host a ribbon cutting celebration once all of the work is complete.”
Chair Gant touched on how much the community has changed and grown, while EAHS has stayed virtually the same.
“Next year, in 2022, Eastern will celebrate its 60th anniversary as a consolidated high school,” Gant said. “The campus hasn’t really changed a lot since it first welcomed students, but the student body has doubled and even more so, the community has exploded with growth, residential and commercial. So, the timing seems perfect to be investing in upgrades and expansions for this community’s high school known for its excellence in academics, arts, and athletics.”
Councilmember Ewing reiterated this in an interview with the Mebane Enterprise, applauding citizens of Alamance County and Mebane, for seeing the need and wanting to do something to improve the county’s schools, many of which were in dire need of updating.
“This was actually because the voters – the voters wanted it,” Ewing said. “I'm indebted and just so thankful that everyone agreed that we need to invest in our schools...”
Mebane Mayor Pro Tem Jill Auditori echoed this, and said, "Mebane is a vibrant and progressive community, and a commitment to education is foundational to remaining relevant in a constantly changing world. Strong schools affect our community’s future and, even more importantly, our children’s futures."
Prior to the bond vote, a report was presented at the March 19, 2018 Alamance County Board of Commissioners meeting which highlighted the need for facility repair and upgrades at Eastern, and across the school system.
The 2018 assessment of all ABSS schools found a number of needs present at Eastern Alamance. The assessment suggested exterior window replacement, canopy system replacement, cabinetry replacement, auditorium seating replacement, switchboard and panel replacement due to age, removal of some lockers to increase space and extensive restroom renovations, among other things.
Ewing said this investment is not an investment in school buildings – it’s an investment in the next generation of citizens and leaders.
“I want more engineers out there, I want more people in the sciences, and you can't do that if you just don't have basic amenities, if you have issues right there,” Ewing said. “I want more educated young people for the next generation, without a doubt, and this is a huge step in the right direction.”
Gant thanked EAHS principal, Eric Yarborough, for the amazing work he’s done at Eastern during his time there.
“Mr. Yarbrough, thank you to you and your staff for all that you do each day to support the students here, our community’s leaders of tomorrow,” Gant said. “The work that is beginning to take place on your campus is proof of our community’s trust and faith in your collective efforts to provide a strong foundation for the future.”
Updates on the school’s improvements will be reported by the Mebane Enterprise as they become available.