PHOTOS: District celebrates new Colbert Middle School in west Fayetteville

John L. Colbert speaks Thursday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the new west Fayetteville middle school named in his honor. (Flyer photos/Todd Gill)

District officials on Thursday celebrated the completion of the new John L. Colbert Middle School in west Fayetteville.

The event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an open house of the new facility on Rupple Road.

Located about a quarter of a mile north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the $33 million project includes a 100,000-square-foot, two-story building for fifth and sixth graders. The new school is scheduled to open in August for the start of the new school year. The school’s mascot is the Cobras and its colors are black and gold.

School Board president Nika Waitsman last year recommended the school be named in honor of Superintendent John L. Colbert, who will retire this month after a 47-year education career.

“The school board members agreed that naming this new school in honor of Dr. Colbert is absolutely appropriate,” said Waitsman. “It is a fitting tribute to his unprecedented career of service to Fayetteville Public Schools that spans 44 years and has blazed so many new trails.”

Waitsman was one of several speakers at Thursday’s event, alongside Colbert and Warren Collier, principal of the new school.

During his career with Fayetteville Public Schools, Colbert has served as a special education teacher, as principal at Jefferson and Holcomb elementary schools, as assistant superintendent for Elementary Education, as associate superintendent for Support Services, and as superintendent of the District. He is the first Black person to serve Fayetteville Public Schools as a principal, assistant superintendent, associate superintendent, and superintendent.

Warren Collier, principal of the new school, speaks alongside students during the event. (Flyer photos/Todd Gill)

“I am deeply grateful to the school board for this honor,” Colbert said. “Fayetteville Public Schools has been my life since I started as a classroom teacher in 1975. I have had the privilege of working with extraordinary educators throughout my career here in Fayetteville, and some of them have had schools named after them. To think that now my name will also live on in association with one of our schools is very humbling.”

The new school is part of the district’s Focus on the Future initiative, and was funded using money from a $111 million bond restructuring approved by voters in February 2020 to address various needs, including renovation and upgrades of facilities, land acquisition, new school construction, and energy efficiency projects.

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