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Rockwood students heading to class in new digs

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By Damon Lawrence

The old band room at Rockwood High School was damp in more ways than one.

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Not only did the roof leak, but band members said the space could dampen their spirits.

“If you would sit the wrong way on your chair, you’d flip off backwards and keep going because you couldn’t stop,” senior Kaleigh Snipes said.

Fortunately for current and future members, the old band room is a thing of the past.

Thanks to the school system’s $32 million building program, the Rockwood band has a new state-of-the-art facility to call home.

“It’s amazing,” band director Chris Metcalfe said. “A lot of colleges would be jealous of what we’ve got.”

Members said the new space has also given them a boost of band pride.

“Since we’ve got this new building, it pushes us to achieve more,” Taylor Beard said

“We want to be as good as our band room,” Megan Clowers added.

The new band room is clean, spacious and equipped with acoustics.  

“The old area was cramped,” Director of Schools Toni McGriff said. “It was small, it was dark, it was not acoustically appropriate for band because you’ve got to be able to hear your music.”

Rockwood band students won’t be the only ones who get to revel in something modern when school starts today, Aug. 8.

The school also has a new cafeteria, kitchen and career tech building. The middle school has a new lobby area.   

“Walking in here, it makes you want to do a better job because it is so nice,” cafeteria manager Pat Foster said about the new kitchen area. “It makes you feel important.”

Foster’s excitement was similar to what the band students shared. The old kitchen was small and had run-down equipment.    

“Our mixer, we had it duct taped,” she said. “The meat slicer, you kind of had to give it a good kick to get it started.”

Now everything is spacious and state of the art.

“I can’t wait till Monday morning,” Foster said. “The kids deserve this.”

The projects were funded with money TVA gave the county because of the fly ash catastrophe. All areas of the county have benefited with projects also taking place in Harriman, Kingston, Oliver Springs and Midway.    

“It’s been a long time coming,” Rockwood construction and carpentry teacher John Kennedy said of the school’s new tech building.

The expansive building plan had been talked about in Roane County for years. Kennedy said he never got his hopes up until the construction equipment showed up at the school.     

“As soon as they actually started to break ground, I knew then they we were finally going to get a shop,” he said.