Greenwood High School was given the nickname “The University of Greenwood” years ago due to the school’s sprawling campus and beautiful architecture. The school continues to live up to that reputation with the addition of the Freshman Center. School and community leaders gathered to cut the ribbon on the project on Thursday just in time for the 2016 school year.

“We are blessed to live in a community that is thriving and growing,” said Superintendent John Ciesla. “This is more than just a beautiful building, it is more than just classrooms, it is more than just bricks and mortar. It is full of hopes and dreams. In this building will be future doctors, teachers, law enforcement officers, lawyers engineers, skilled labourers, elected officials and firemen. This building represents our future and that is our students.”

The Greenwood School Board has been working towards a Freshman Center for five years now. The Center will benefit ninth-grade students by easing their transition into the high school environment and help the overcrowded district in several ways. Many of the academic and auxiliary programs needed at the new center and high school will be shared, cutting costs. And the reconfiguration of grades would ease the district’s space concerns for three or four more years.

In February of 2012 the board made the decision to seek the funding at a planning session and special meeting. Superintendent, at that time, Dr. Kay Headly said the topic was part of a review of the district’s long-range facility plan and that it had been sent to the Arkansas Department of Education.

Then in Nov. of 2013 the building process started. The board voted 7-0 for MAHG Architecture of Fort Smith to begin the architectural schematic process for the center.

The junior high will now house the seventh and eighth grades, the middle school will house fifth- and sixth-graders, and the elementary schools will house kindergarten through fourth grade.

The district last reconfigured grades in 2010 after district voters twice declined school property tax millage increases proposed to fund building a new elementary school for the growing district.

in February 2012 an application for Arkansas Department of Education facilities partnership funding was submitted for the project. The state approved the application in April for $2.28 million in funding, but no money was available for the $10 million to $12 million 51,000-square-foot, two-story project at that time.

In April of 2014 the school received the funds from the ADE.

In September of 2014, voters approved a millage increase to fund the center. The hike generates an additional $590,000 for the district per year. The Freshman Center features two stories and connects to the existing High School building. The existing High School is flush with the same roof line as the Freshman Center which slopes down into the foundation.

Speaking to the students that will attend the new center Ciesla said; “I hope that you fully appreciate the facility that you will be able to attend school in. I believe it will support you, it will nurture you and will grow you in the future. As the saying goes, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected. We expect great things from you in your education and also in the future. We expect you to carry on this tradition of excellence that has been established in the Greenwood School district.