By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
SMYRNA — Spencer Wickliff has attended a different middle school each of the past two years because he is part of a military family.
In sixth grade, he went to a middle school in Nashville, and for seventh, he attended Rock Springs Middle School.
But he is looking forward to his eighth-grade year at Rutherford County’s newest middle school, Rocky Fork, which opens this year in Smyrna.
“I wish this would have been open in sixth grade,” Spencer said during the school’s ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday. He jokingly added, “As an eighth-grader, I’m running the place.”
Spencer, a member of the football team, was one of hundreds of students, educators, parents, community members and government leaders who attended the dedication ceremony, which marked the 47th school in the county district. Rocky Fork Middle School — with its Storm mascot — will serve grades six through eight within the 163,000 square-foot building.
“This is an incredible facility,” School Board member Wayne Blair said from the podium before the public tour. “I think you’re going to be amazed walking it. It’s cost efficient and shows that we are good stewards of your tax dollars.”
Blair thanked all those who made the school possible, including the school board, Director of Schools Don Odom, the district’s engineering and construction department and the Rutherford County Commission, which ultimately approved the funding for the school’s construction.
“A facility like this does not happen over night,” Blair explained, later adding, “Our County Commission has stood the test and made the tough decisions (to fund the project).”
Commissioner Brad Turner also spoke at the dedication ceremony, and he challenged teachers and students to accomplish great feats as a school community.
“I’m looking forward to watching the story of Rocky Fork Middle School unfold over he years,” Turner said.
Director Odom complimented the school’s first principal, Dr. Jimmy Sullivan, who has spent many months working from the district’s office to oversee the school’s final details before opening.
“I’ve watched him as he’s hired a faculty and he’s done a great job,” Odom said.
Sullivan explained his vision for the school and emphasized it would be “everyone’s school,” including students, parents and community members.
“This is very much a personal journey for me,” Sullivan said, explaining the first house he lived in was in Smyrna.
He later added: “I firmly believe the education offered in Rutherford County is second to none.”
For the Wickliff family, they are looking forward to the school year in the new school, Spencer’s father, Anthony said.
“I love the colors,” said Anthony, referring to the Carolina Blue, Navy Blue and Silver/Gray colors that adorn the facility. “It’s a beautiful school.”
PHOTOS / JAMES EVANS
1 - Director of Schools Don Odom (left(, Principal Dr. Jimmy Sullivan (right), along with other leaders, students and community members, cut the ribbon on Rocky Fork, Middle School, the newest school in Rutherford County.
2 - Principal Dr. Jimmy Sullivan and a crowd of others head down the hall at Rocky Fork Middle School for the opening ceremony.
3 - Rocky Fork Middle School teachers line the hallway to greet students, parents and community members during the opening celebration of the new school.
4 - The mascot for Rocky Fork Middle School is Storm, as shown in the logo at the center of the gym's floor.
5 - School Board member Wayne Blair and Rocky Fork Middle School eighth-grader Spencer Wickliff talk during the opening ceremony of the new school. "He's a very impressive young man," Blair said of Spencer.
6 - Wayne Blair addresses a full auditorium of school supporters during the opening ceremony.
7 - Director of Schools Don Odom addresses the crowd.
8 - County Commissioner Brad Turner talks about the future of the school during the opening ceremony. "You are heading into some of the best years of your lives," Turner said to students.
9 - Oakland Principal Bill Spurlock was one of many fellow administrators who attended the opening ceremony to celebrate the new school.