New Suffolk schools nearly finished

Published 7:01 pm Saturday, July 7, 2018

Contractors are putting the finishing touches on two new Suffolk schools that will debut to more than 1,500 students this fall.

Norfolk-based contractor Blueridge General is heading construction of the Florence Bowser Elementary and Col. Fred Cherry Middle schools, both of which were designed by RRMM Architects.

As of Friday, the middle school is about 95 percent complete with contractors doing floor finishes, site cleanup and other final touches, Blueridge General President Eric Stichler said in a phone interview. The elementary school is about 99 percent finished and is ready for new furniture to be moved in next week.


Email newsletter signup

Both projects are expected to be turned over to Suffolk Public Schools employees by the end of July, Stichler said.

“The school system is going to move in all their furniture and equipment and get set up,” he said. “The classrooms will be set up in advance for the teachers to start using their spaces.”

The only project delays this year have been rainy spells in late winter and early spring, according to Stichler.

“The weather always catches up on us at some point in time,” he said.

Col. Fred Cherry Middle School on Burbage Drive was named by a unanimous School Board vote in February to honor a Suffolk native who was a Vietnam prisoner of war for more than seven years and died in 2016. The two-story, 125,200-square-foot building will relieve overcrowding at John Yeates Middle School with more than 25 classrooms to accommodate about 800 students.

According to the RRMM Architects website, the school’s two-story design is organized into two zones with public spaces across the front of the building and three different “grade houses” along the back. These houses are separated by a main corridor overlooked by classrooms on the second floor.

Between each grade house is a courtyard for teachers to hold their lessons outdoors. Electives are located along the main corridor to allow access to different grade levels of students without having to enter other grade houses.

“The openness, coupled with abundant natural light, present dynamic interior spaces conducive to a productive learning environment,” according to the website.

Florence Bowser Elementary School on Nansemond Parkway is named after an educator who taught in Suffolk and other Virginia localities for more than 50 years. The school will replace the former Florence Bowser as well as Driver Elementary School — which shut its doors at the end of the spring semester — and relieve overcrowding at Creekside Elementary School.

The former Florence Bowser Elementary School stood on the same site as the new school, which will encompass more than 114,800 square feet and house approximately 1,000 students.