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School celebrates future expansion

March 31, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Winchester Avenue Elementary School bell rang in Martinsburg Tuesday, celebrating a $500,000 grant that will enable the overcrowded school to expand.

The West Virginia School Building Authority announced the award Monday. On Tuesday, children, administrators and teachers celebrated the announcement.

The money will be used to build an addition that will house a gymnasium/multipurpose room, restrooms and possibly two classrooms.

Daniel Plott and Derek Dyche, both fifth-graders at the school, said the expansion will make things easier for students.

"If it's raining outside and the ground is wet and we're doing exercises, we won't slip or anything," Plott said.

The school has a multipurpose room for physical education classes, art and music, but it's only slightly larger than a classroom. A new multipurpose room would be about 21/2 times bigger, and would provide room for dodge ball and other physical education activities.

The Berkeley County Board of Education had been considering an expansion for years but couldn't get the funding, said board President George "Bill" Sonnik III.

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"The reason we couldn't get the addition is because this is the oldest school in the county and it will be the first torn down," Sonnik said. "At some point, this school is coming right down to the ground, but it won't be anytime soon. We can't lose this site."

The Winchester Avenue school has turned coat rooms into small classes for tutoring and mentoring programs. Students have to wait in line to use the only two restrooms.

Assemblies for the 250 students are held in hallways. Programs and performances must be held in a nearby church.

"We're so overcrowded we have 15 to 20 students at another school because we don't have room for them at this school," said Principal Joyce Chapman.

The board is expected to kick in about $91,000 for the project, although it's too early to tell the exact amount, said Superintendent Manny Arvon.

Arvon said the expansion is a priority, but construction time lines won't be set until he meets with the state School Building Authority.

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