Morrison School Groundbreaking
Originally published: 2014-08-25
New Morrison School will add much needed space, facilities
BRISTOL, Va. — Dr. Sharon Morrison received a deed to seven acres of land and a $2.2 million gift Monday that will allow her to build a new campus for special children that she and her late husband envisioned 38 years ago.
Ground was broken in a ceremony off of North Pinecrest Lane for a new Morrison School complex that will include a gymnasium and more space for new programs on property given to the institution. It is scheduled to open in spring 2015, school officials announced.
The facility helps children in first through 12th grades who have learning challenges and Morrison said Monday that the size of classes and the age of the building on Terrace Drive have reached a point that it’s time for a new beginning.
“We are in a very small, old farmhouse and we use every square inch of it,” said Morrison. “We have kids in the hallway, in the furnace room and trying to accommodate as many as we can. We are restricted in how many kids we can serve and what programs we offer.”
Morrison added that any student science lab projects have to be conducted at nearby college campuses while physical education courses are staggered between weeks because of the need to use local Boys and Girls Club facilities.
The monetary donation came from the James and Frances McGlothlin Foundation along with a deed to the property that was originally purchased in the 1970s by The United Company, according to information provided by the school.
“We will never be able to provide anything like what Dr. Morrison has given [the community] with that school,” James McGlothlin said.
The new 20,000-square-foot facility will also allow the school to increase its student body to 100, add a cafeteria, pre-school learning area and playground equipment, McGlothlin said.
United gave Morrison School its first home on the former Sullins Academy grounds until the move to the current location. The engineering firm of J.A. Street and Associates will provide design and other associated tasks connected with building the new school at no cost, McGlothlin said.
Bristol Virginia City Council voted unanimously last month to rezone a portion of the school’s new home despite complaints from homeowners in a nearby community who had concerns about increased traffic volumes and possible safety issues.
Morrison said she felt that the dream of a finer, larger and better equipped physical facility faded with the death of school co-founder and husband, Arthur, in 2008. And the day last year that the McGlothlins and other school supporters revealed their intentions to fully fund a new school and grounds was like something out of a storybook, she added.
“Imagine having your most impossible dream come true,” Morrison said. “If you can imagine that, then you can imagine how I personally feel about this gift.”