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JCPS dedicates two new schools

Johnston County Public Schools dedicated its newest schools, Swift Creek Middle and the Innovation Academy at South Campus, to their communities on Oct. 29.

Hundreds of community members, alumni, and current students came together at two separate ceremonies for the schools. Attendees enjoyed an afternoon of music, presentations, and coming together as a community to support the new schools.

“It’s our job to make each student’s dreams come true,” said Dr. Ross Renfrow, Johnston County Public Schools Superintendent. “That’s why you have a dedication like this so you can publicly say that’s what our goal and commitment is. We’re bonded to you and want to help you be successful.”

Swift Creek Middle opened its doors to new students and staff in August, after finishing construction earlier this year.

“Opening this school has been a fantastic experience,” said Dr. Kerri Evans, Swift Creek Middle Principal. “We have merged three communities - the McGee’s Crossroads community, the Clayton community, and the Cleveland community all into our new community of Swift Creek.”

Swift Creek Middle was built to keep up with population growth in the area. Johnston County Public Schools gained 1,200 students this school year, according to Dr. Renfrow.

“Those with a fixed mindset might say that growth is not an opportunity but a problem. But if you have a growth mindset, growth in terms of growing students each year is an opportunity,” said Dr. Renfrow. “We would rather be opening and dedicating schools, than having to close schools because population is down.”

In Smithfield, community members came together to celebrate and support the newly launched Innovation Academy.

Innovation Academy is a school the first of its kind in Johnston County and was envisioned as a laboratory environment where students will be exposed to experiences in problem based learning, personalization, and collaboration, according to Principal Kelley Johnson.

“What an amazing celebration of the purpose of this school that highlighted the young people we seek to serve,” said Johnson. “I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.”

Innovation Academy opened to students in August in the former South Campus Community School. The school has preserved pieces of its past, like incorporating a Hawk into the school logo and maintaining the building’s Halls of History. Yet the school is still embracing the future, with a renovated building for its students and staff and a new name for the school.

“This is a unique situation because we are situated on what I consider sacred ground, with a renewed purpose. It’s a unique meeting of old and new, past and present all focused on our future,” said Johnson.