PARRISH — A decision by the Walker County Board of Education Tuesday afternoon brought a renewed energy to the Town of Parrish and its beloved elementary school.School board members unanimously …
PARRISH — A decision by the Walker County Board of Education Tuesday afternoon brought a renewed energy to the Town of Parrish and its beloved elementary school.
School board members unanimously voted to add seventh grade to Parrish Elementary School, in an effort to alleviate overcrowding at nearby Oakman Middle School that has an enrollment of nearly 700 students. The move will also allow Parrish Elementary, currently a K-6 school, to grow by 30 students or more.
The grade level addition will go into effect for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.
"I'm excited. We're just thankful that the seventh-grade will be here once again," Parrish Elementary Principal Thomas Kyzer said, following the board meeting. "It will help our community tremendously."
Kyzer said two dual certified instructors — one for math and science and the other for social studies and English — have been hired to teach seventh-grade students.
Having the grade addition will allow the school to offer boys basketball and girls volleyball. Such sports will give the community teams to rally behind once again.
When the board of education voted to close Parrish High School in 2014, the decision left residents of the town heartbroken. Parrish Mayor Heather Hall was among a crowd that gathered for Tuesday's school board meeting, appropriately held at Parrish Elementary. She and others filled the school's auditorium with applause after the vote that will ultimately help grow the town's only remaining school.
"This is something that was needed. It should have never left Parrish in the first place," Hall said. "It's full circle for me. I'm just really excited, and I know everybody in Parrish is very excited."
According to the Daily Mountain Eagle archives, Parrish High was a Grade 7-12 school when it closed in 2014.
The school board has stated the possibility of adding eighth grade to Parrish Elementary for the 2020-21 school year as well. If everything goes according to plan, that will mean the community will have gained two grades that it lost during the high school's 2014 closing.
In May, Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood commented on the impact of adding grades to Parrish Elementary.
"It allows the numbers to improve at Parrish Elementary. It allows that community to have a little bit of pride in adding some sports back," he said. "It would be huge in maintaining that school."
Hall said the Town of Parrish is donating lockers and science lab equipment from Parrish High School to the elementary school, which will help accommodate the grade addition.