NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Newport News School Board approved a plan to move Huntington Middle School in Newport News, but not everyone is on board with the multi-million-dollar project.
With the school board's vote to approve the project Tuesday night, the middle school's old location will be turned into a community center. The motion carried with a vote of 4-3.
Newport News Mayor McKinley Price said a new state-of-the-art school is a win not only for the community but for students. However, he also said that the plan doesn't necessarily give honor to the building's history.
Huntington Middle School was originally designed as a high school that roots itself on Orcutt Avenue, but it will move to 28th Street if passed.
Some alumni, including Samuel Hawkins, are worried their memories will be erased.
"I'm not for the relocating. I think staying in the same location is good," Hawkins said. "That's where we know Huntington as. That's our stomping grounds."
"The upbringing, the way the teachers cared about us, I think that's a part of our legacy, more so than anything," Hawkins continued.
The old middle school has been closed since 2018 due to deteriorating conditions, causing students to share a school with high schoolers.
"I was there, and I went to high school there. There were maybe 2,300 kids there, so the designs from middle school and high school are totally different," Price said. "We've been adding up what we looked at, what we were going to need to invest to upgrade that school. We decided to build a new school."
Price, an alumnus of the school, said this will provide the best opportunity for students in the community.
"I tear up still going into that school, thinking about the memories that I have there, and to be able to provide a new facility for kids is just going to be wonderful as well as preserving the heritage of Huntington," Price said.
Ron Curtis, another alumnus, said at first he was on the fence about the change but cares more about students' education.
"The ultimate plan for the students, they come first. That's the number one ultimate plan - that the students come first and the school comes second," Curtis said.
"I can't wait 'till we get started," Price said. "Of course, the school is going to be built first, and we're anxious to get started on doing that. Hopefully, the schools understand that we will go along with the program."
Price tells us some of the upgrades when the new school is built will include tennis courts, a splash pool and an indoor swimming pool. Price said the goal is to have this project completed by 2023.