By William Marlow
Alex City Outlook
Aug 9, 2023
A day many thought would never come finally arrived Wednesday. Alexander City Schools broke ground on construction of the new Benjamin Russell High School. State, county and city leaders shoveled dirt at the Charles E. Bailey Sportsplex, where the new $97 million campus will reside.
A groundbreaking ceremony occurred at the Alex City Horse Riding Club arena in the Sportplex, which will be demolished in the coming weeks to make way for the new school.
“Many wonder if this is necessary? The answer is a resounding yes,” she said. “Our students deserve to study and develop in a facility that is state of the art and that will expose them to technologies that they will be expected to use in college, the military and the workforce.”
The new high school will also benefit more than students.
“Businesses looking to locate in Alex City will realize that we believe in and are willing to invest in our students to produce a vibrant workforce and build a better tomorrow for our community,” she said.
The lead up to Wednesday encompassed countless hours over several years, but board of education president Brett Pritchard said the new school will be well worth the wait.
“There's no doubt that the most important part of any school is what's on the inside: the students, the teachers, the staff and administrators,” Pritchard said. “But it's equally important to equip them with the best facilities and equipment to help prepare them for the next phase of their lives,” he said.
Now, the school district can kick it into high gear in terms of construction. “Some never thought we’d get there. I’ve heard the same things many of you've heard over the last few years: ‘We don't need a new high school,’ or ‘They will never build it,’” Pritchard said. “Like (BRHS) principal (Shannon) Benefield said, there's a bulldozer right there and (Thursday) morning at seven o'clock, we're going to move some dirt here at this new facility.”
Pritchard echoed the necessity of the new school, especially based on his experience in higher education at Central Alabama Community College.
“One of the most important elements of a healthy and flourishing community is the school system,” he said. “I had the honor of traveling all across the state to so many schools and it was eye opening to see the communities who made education a priority. I'm proud to say our community is one of those communities who places the utmost importance on the education of our children.”
Benefield was also present at the groundbreaking.
“It's an exciting time for the kids in our community because we're giving them a facility that they deserve,” he said.