Stone High CTE Facility Designs Released

The Stone School District expects to begin construction on a 22,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art Career Technical Education center within the coming months.

The $8 million facility will be located on the newly acquired land off Highway 49 behind Venture Church.

"It will open up wonderful doors and avenues for our students to step out of high school and into good-paying jobs in the workforce," School Board President Jacob Smith said.

Smith said he has long heard companies beg for a more trained workforce to take on technical jobs. He expects to see positive results from future career days at Stone High with this facility in place.

"Companies are actively seeking for and willing to pay good money for those people to come in, even directly out of school if they have had fundamentals," Smith said. "It's a vast number of doors and opportunities for our children to have this CTE program."

At the December school board meeting, representatives from the contracted architect firm, Eley Guild Hardy, presented digital renderings of the facility.

The firm is well-known in the state for designing top-quality education centers. Eley Guild Hardy has designed facilities for every major university in the state and the Hancock County Performing Arts Center and redesigned St. Patrick Catholic High School after Hurricane Katrina.

The firm's most recent projects include the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson and the Mississippi Aquarium on the coast.

The architects designed an expansive facility for Stone's CTE facility with accommodations for the district's existing teacher academy, technical, culinary, health science, utility, welding programs. The current designs for the lobby feature a merchandise space where students could sell or market items and services. The proposed floor plan includes space for additional classrooms and administrative offices.

Once complete, the new CTE facility will be the first time the high school's vocational programs were all housed under one roof.

The project has been a long time coming for the district.

In the past two years, the district has applied for funding from the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund, which resulted from the $2.4 billion BP oil spill settlement with the state. The district received both halves of financing for the $8 million facility after the Mississippi Legislature allotted another $3.2 million in funding last year.

The district also accepted a land donation of the site from Wynn Alexander and Dick O'Neal for a new high school.

While the new facility will be used exclusively for the vocational programs, the contracted architect firm provided additional designs for expanding the CTE campus with new facilities.

Eley Guild Hardy architect firm also included a master expansion plan for the campus, which included a brand new high school with a new band hall, auditorium and gymnasium, and a football stadium, softball, and baseball complex.

Rumors have circulated that the district will announce an $18 million bond issue after the first year, but nothing official has been announced.

Those closest to the schools are excited for a new campus and facility, which has not built a new facility for education in decades.

Stone High graduate Kaitlyn Breland works for Eley Guild Hardy as an architect intern. The CTE facility was her first big project this past summer.

“I’ve been a part of everything so far, like helping develop drawings, helping develop design concepts, and the whole nine yards,” Breland said. “Every part of it has been fun and different. That’s the best thing about all of this is just learning new things that I never even thought I would learn about.”

Breland is the daughter of Shauna Breland and Billy Breland.

After graduating from Stone High in 2015, Breland earned her degree in architecture and design from Mississippi State University.

She helped formulae the CTE plans with enthusiasm only a Stone alum could understand.

“I’m just excited to be a part of it and produce something for the people of my community to enjoy in the future,” Breland said.