JMA graffiti

Middle schoolers take their turn with the markers Wednesday, writing their names, Bible verses and encouraging phrases during the ‘graffiti ceremony.’ 

Graffiti was actually encouraged Thursday on the John Milledge Academy campus.

Students and staff signed their names and wrote encouraging messages or Bible scriptures on the interior concrete walls of the private school’s new science building, which has been under construction for about the last month. 

From pre-K up to high school seniors, students took markers to the walls to leave their marks. By the time the day was over, the drab concrete had slight pops of color all around.

“We have found multiple ways to bless this building,” JMA Head of School Jessica Jones said. “It started with our seniors, who actually have bricks with their names on them underneath the foundation. Today we wanted to make sure that every kid had the opportunity to put their name on a little piece of John Milledge history.”

Once completed, the 10,000 square-foot facility will house two high school science labs, two math classrooms, and an 84-seat blackbox theatre. John Milledge’s current single science lab is original to the existing high school building that opened more than 40 years ago. Jones said she has hopes of walling off the current lab to create two lab spaces for the middle school once the new building is completed. The theatre space will be a new feature for JMA. It will double as a large assembly place when needed and will have tiered seating. 

According to the head of school, the science building will be the first new academic facility on the John Milledge campus since the middle school was built in 2000. The Trojan Center gymnasium, which houses the school’s basketball teams and P.E. classes, opened about a decade ago. 

“The same way our athletes should have state-of-the-art experiences in the weight room to mimic what they are going to see at the collegiate level, our high schoolers who are going to become physical therapists, radiologists, and pediatricians need state-of-the-art science labs to mimic the chemistry and biology labs they are going to see in college,” Jones said.

The school is currently carrying out a fundraising campaign to pay for the new construction. Titled “More Than Bricks,” the effort has brought in over $400,000 of the $2 million goal. 

Jones said she expects the new science building will be ready for use come February, though the date could be sooner depending on when the furniture arrives. Materials have been ordered, but the pandemic has caused all kinds of shipping delays in the supply chain. 

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