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DENMARK -- Dozens of officials, staff, parents and students gathered Friday in Denmark to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bamberg School District 2 pre-K-12 school.

The district will borrow up to $38 million to combine its three existing schools one new facility on the U.S. 78 property where Denmark-Olar High School is now located. The shell of the existing high school will be completely renovated, and the middle and elementary schools will be replaced with a new pre-K-8 school that will be connected to the renovated high school. A new sports stadium and other athletic facilities will also be added, along with a new district office and a new maintenance building.

Superintendent Dr. Thelma Sojourner praised Sixth Congressional Dist. Rep. James Clyburn for his support during the process.

“Had it not been for Congressman Clyburn, who listened when I visited his office many times, I don’t know if we would have been successful,” Sojourner said.

Clyburn reflected to when he and Sojourner were looking for a remedy to the solution for replacing the old school buildings.

“She was so discouraged. But, she was not willing to give up," he said of Sojourner. Clyburn reminded the audience that there is no limit to how many times you should try.

S.C. House Dist. 90 Rep. Justin Bamberg took the opportunity to specifically address the students.

“This process has been going on much longer than I have been in office. But to the students, thank you for being out here. Be encouraged because one day the people sitting up here will be you," Bamberg said. "Be able at any moment to sacrifice what you are right now for what you can become."

Denmark Mayor Gerald Wright, who previously served as superintendent of Bamberg 2 reflected on how pleased he was to see what had transpired over time.

“It is my opinion that excellent facilities help facilitate what happens in those facilities,” Wright said, noting that Bamberg School District 2 has a record of producing stellar graduates and he is looking forward to more.

Debbie Turbeville, state director of USDA Rural Development, who has worked with the school board and the superintendent to secure funds to build the school, praised the superintendent and the school board for working extremely hard.

“We understand the value and importance in having updated educational facilities," she said.

Turbeville, who has been with the USDA for 35 years, added, “We are happy with the work we have done in Bamberg County, and we plan to continue our relationship in Bamberg County."

Those who came to experience the celebration also heard form Phanisha Williams, president of the Denmark-Olar High School Student Council and Larry Bias, chairman of the Bamberg 2 Board of Trustees.

Williams expressed her excitement on behalf of the student body.

“We know there are many people to thank who have made this possible. There are many who had a vision and many who went to the polls and voted for this school. We will make you proud of us,” she said.

Bias reiterated his appreciation to those who voted in the school referendum in November 2016.

“We have buildings that were built in 1953 and 1954. Our kids deserve to be able to work in the same type of facilities as those kids upstate," he said, noting that the funds for the new facility will not be spent unwisely.

Contact the writer: stok1156@bellsouth.net.

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