Ribbon cut on new Cullman Middle School facility

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In keeping with tradition, students were invited to cut the ribbon at Cullman Middle School’s opening ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. Left to right are Cullman City School Board President Cheryl Harrison, Cullman Middle School student McKinley Varden, Cullman Middle School student Jonathan Witcher and Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff. (Cayla Grace Murphy)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The foyer of Cullman Middle School’s newest facility was packed on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 2, 2024, as key players and dignitaries observed a ribbon cutting honoring the opening of the building. The new facility is officially open for learning, welcoming students returning from winter break on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024.

East Side Baptist Church Pastor Matt Smith opened the ceremony with prayer, while Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped the facility come together, with a special note of thanks to the school board and its vision of expansion and safety.

“Specifically, they had a vision to ensure that our facilities are safe for our students, and when they said that, they envisioned this campus. We’ve done some work on the primary school, which is great, but when it came to safety, the round building was just not the safest design in the time that we are in right now,” explained Kallhoff. “Things have changed, and they wanted better and safer facilities for our students and teachers.”

Kallhoff said the move to a new facility was not made with only safety in mind, but also to reflect Cullman’s standing as a school system in the state of Alabama as a whole.

“If you haven’t looked in the papers lately, we’re one of the best school systems in the state of Alabama. Not because we feel that way, but the proof is in the pudding. So, if we’re going to be one of the best school systems in the state, then our facilities need to be up to date as well,” Kallhoff told the crowd.

Cullman City School Board President Cheryl Harrison shared a word of encouragement, noting the “full circle” moment of a vision years in the making coming to fruition.

“A rewarding part of our service on the school board is not only creating a vision, but watching that vision, nurturing that vision and seeing it come to life,” she said. “This is so incredible, and is one of those moments that makes our work on the school board so worth it. Two years ago, the board elected to move forward with plans to completely transform the CMS campus. As Mr. Kallhoff said, we wanted to address student safety, an aging and outdated structure, capacity concerns and moving the sixth-grade students back to this campus.”

Harrison noted that while there is still work to be done before the final phase of construction is completed, CMS students, faculty and staff will be able to use a fresh, modern space to learn and instruct.

Kallhoff invited two standout students to cut the ribbon, saying, “The tradition we started with the primary school will continue as we have more ribbons to cut over the next few years, to have the students cut ribbons. It (the facility) is not for us; we like it and it looks pretty, but it is really for our students.”

The two students selected were Jonathan Witcher and McKinley Varden, who, according to Kallhoff, stand out as well-rounded CMS students, taking academic excellence seriously, exhibiting good sportsmanship in athletics and serving humbly in student government. The ribbon was cut and met with a round of applause as attendees gathered their things and began a tour of the new facility.

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