BRISTOL, Va. — A long-time dream was realized Wednesday as officials of Morrison School cut the ribbon to formally open their new $2.2 million, 20,000-square-foot facility.
Located at 200 North Pinecrest Lane, the school serves special needs children in grades one-12. About 100 people attended a sun-drenched ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.
Founder Sharon Morrison said she was humbled and grateful for the support to build the new school.
“We have a future. Morrison School can move forward, we can offer services we haven’t been able to offer in our smaller facility,” Morrison said after the ceremony. “We’ll be adding a pre-school to help younger children. I’m just so thankful to Jim and Fran [McGlothlin] because they believed in this cause and are willing to support it.”
The building and seven acres of land were gifts from the McGlothlins, their personal foundation, the United Company and the United Company Charitable Foundation. In addition, J.A. Street and Associates provided the building at cost and all furnishings were provided by Bristol businessman Frank Leonard and his wife, Jackie.
“We were resigned to staying where we were, but our kids are great salespeople,” Morrison said. “They [McGlothlins] saw the potential of what a program like ours could do and were generous enough to do this. We never asked for anything. We never said, ‘Build us a building,’ it was initiated by them.”
Fran McGlothlin said the conversation about supporting the school began during a site visit to the former school on Terrace Drive — which had received a donation.
“They really saw what it was about, helpful for special needs children. There was no place in public schools to address those needs,” Jim McGlothlin said after the ceremony. “We all visited out there once and said, ‘This is something we have to help with.’ For a year or two, we had this dream of building a school, but couldn’t quite figure it out, but finally said ‘We can do this ourselves.’ Sometimes, you just have to step up and do it.”
The land was originally purchased by The United Company in the 1970s. The school was allowed to proceed last summer after the Bristol Virginia City Council voted to rezone a portion of the property despite complaints from some nearby homeowners who expressed concerns about increased vehicle traffic and possible safety issues.
The new building is complete with the exception of the gym floor, which is to be installed once a concrete floor has cured.
“I am very impressed. Jim [Street] did a great job. I’m well pleased,” Jim McGlothlin said after touring the facility.
It will also signal a new focus for his foundation.
“We’re going to start doing whole projects. We’ve been saying, ‘Here’s a little bit for something.’ We want to do something that’s meaningful and I think this is,” McGlothlin said. “We want to still help with things, but we want to do entire projects, and I think this shows it’s worth doing.”
The new school can now accommodate 84 students in grades first through 12th and 24 pre-school students — effectively doubling its enrollment, Morrison said.
“We were at our maximum and had been for many years at our other building,” Morrison said.
Orientation is scheduled this week and classes are scheduled to begin Monday.
“This is as under-the-wire as you can get,” Morrison said.
To view the full story Click Here.