New Parrish school will focus on families, Harvey says
A dream officially became reality Saturday afternoon as the School District of Manatee County officials hosted a ribbon-cutting for the area’s newest elementary school.
Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School , 8610 115th Ave. E, Parrish, will be ready to educate more than 500 kids when the 2019-2020 school year begins on Aug. 12. More than 250 people joined in Saturday’s celebration, including the school’s namesake, a longtime teacher, educator and school official.
Harvey fought back tears as she thanked the school district, family and friends for memorializing her name for years to come.
“It was not something that I planned on — to be here, to have a school named after me. It’s not something that was part of the plan,” said Harvey.
She also stressed the importance of coming together as a community to ensure that every kid has a fighting chance to realize and exceed their potential.
“We are going to be working together to make a difference in these kids,” Harvey said. “This is a Manatee County school that will, with passion, focus on families as we help make sure our children — these children — will have an opportunity to learn, to dream and to achieve as they make beautiful memories in this school.”
The concept of a fostering community has been Harvey’s guiding principle ever since she began her career in education more than 50 years ago. Speakers and guests shared fond memories that solidified Harvey as a legendary instructor.
“She’s been quite a powerhouse as it relates to the education of our youth in this community,” said Willie J. Holley, a senior pastor at Pathways Christian Fellowship Church.
Hayley Rio, who was recently named principal of the new school, called it a “special honor” to lead an educational institution named after such an influential figure. In the short time she’s known Harvey, she’s experienced her passion for lifting up children firsthand.
“I quickly realized that we all become her kids, because as soon as she interacts with you, she now has a heart for you,” Rio said. “She just takes you right in under her wing and you become one of her kids.”
The Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School is a $28 million, state-of-the-art campus, and one of three new schools that will be open in time for the start of the school year. The district will celebrate the opening of Parrish Community High School on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and Dr. Mona Jain Middle School on Thursday, Aug. 8.
School Board Vice Chair Gina Messenger, who represents the Parrish area, said she welcomed the addition.
“With Parrish’s continued growth, this school will be lovingly utilized and will also offer a shelter space when our community needs it,” she said.
County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace, who also represents Parrish, said the district’s progress in bringing more schools to the community has been “unbelievable.” As teachers gear up for the new year, Trace reminded them of the lifetime impact they have on students.
“Teachers, y’all are going to have an impact on kids that will be remembered for a lifetime,” said Trace. “You have the greatest calling in the world.”
Surrounded by friends and loved ones, Harvey snipped a ceremonial green ribbon to symbolize the school’s official opening.
The district also reminded elementary school parents across the county that school start times are five minutes earlier this year, with classes now beginning at 8:25 a.m.