Students, from left, Hannah Brown, Aaliyah Wheeling, Ben Alvarez, Ke’Niya Lynch, Ke’Monta Lynch and Mallori Mason participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Red Oak Elementary School on Wednesday in Red Oak.

Six elementary students officially broke ground Wednesday for the new Red Oak Elementary School that will be constructed on the campus of the current Red Oak Elementary School in the northern part of Nash County.

The school, which is expected to accommodate roughly 750 elementary students when complete, will combine students from the current Swift Creek, Cedar Grove and Red Oak elementary schools under one roof in a new, larger facility, which is expected to open to students by fall 2023.

Two student representatives of each merging school were present Wednesday to ceremonially break ground on the new facility.

Nash County Board of Education Chairman Franklin Lamm spoke at the event with most members of the school board by his side.

“We have come a long way to making this day possible,” Lamm said. “I would like to thank the parents and students at these schools. We would also like to thank our county commissioners, for without them this would not be possible. We have numerous meetings and quite a few discussions, but we have been all in to make this day possible.”

Nash County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robbie Davis also spoke at the event where most of his fellow commissioners were present.

“I think children will have a much better chance of learning in this brand new, very modern, high-tech facility with advanced safety features,” Davis said.

The new Red Oak Elementary School will consist of an 87,297-square-foot single-story building equipped with administrative areas, a media center, cafeteria, classrooms, support and storage spaces as well as an 1,896-square-foot addition to the existing gymnasium.

The project also will include partial renovation to the existing 12,311-square-foot gymnasium building, according to a statement from Nash County Public Schools. The Oakley Collier Architect firm will oversee construction of the facility.

The school is expected to cost roughly $20 million including preliminary costs and furnishings. Roughly $10 million of that is coming in the form of a grant from the state of North Carolina while Nash County is footing the bill for the rest of the construction.

Davis on Wednesday praised the efforts of former state Sen. Rick Horner, who was present at the event, for his part in helping the county gain access to the grant.

“Rick is the one I think was the key person responsible for the $10 million grant that enabled us to move forward with this project,” Davis said.

Construction on the school is expected to begin this summer, but those efforts have been somewhat delayed by the scarce availability of steel at this time. Because of the delay, students who are attending Red Oak Elementary School will likely be moved into the new facility in January 2023 so that the current Red Oak Elementary School building can be demolished to make room for parking.

Students from Swift Creek Elementary School and Cedar Grove Elementary School are expected to move into the new facility in August 2023.