Category : CCSD
The Cherokee County School District on Thursday evening dedicated the Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility.
The facility at The Bluffs in Canton includes an office building and an auditorium, which will be used for Cherokee County School Board meetings, CCSD professional development and training activities and community events.
The 15-acre campus is named for the longtime former Superintendent of Schools, known to many as “Dr. P,” who dedicated himself to public education over his impressive 50-year career, with CCSD honored by his leadership for the last 17 of those years
“We commonly say within our organization that ‘great leaders don’t create followers… they create other leaders,’” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said in his remarks to honor Dr. Petruzielo. “I count myself as one of the leaders he cultivated. I would not be your Superintendent today without his guidance and support.”
The ceremony featured a speech by Dr. Petruzielo, who received two standing ovations and who highlighted CCSD’s numerous accomplishments during his tenure, while also recognizing and thanking numerous former and current School Board members and CCSD leaders in the audience.
“This is the most important and the most appreciated professional honor which I have received during my 50 years as an educator, 25 years as a Superintendent of Schools and 17 years at the helm of the Cherokee County School District,” he said. “Thank you… and may God continue to bless Cherokee County’s public schools!”
Dr. Petruzielo did not shy away in his speech from the passionate stand for public education that, as School Board Chair Kyla Cromer noted in her remarks, “sometimes put a political bullseye on his back.”
“He showed courage and made sacrifices, and the fruits of this are the generations of children who will be our community’s and our world’s leaders for years to come,” she said in her tribute.
The many accomplishments he recounted in his speech ranged from organizational improvements and engagement practices to strategic planning and forecasting and advocacy initiatives… the latter of which often put Dr. Petruzielo in the headlines for his fierce fight on behalf of public schools and the children they serve.
“I remember telling legislators, School Board members, teachers, Principals, parents, taxpayers and media what they needed to hear – rather than what was politically expedient… including whenever students, staff or the School District were not being treated with the support and respect they deserved in negative public statements or policy proposals from misguided – and now former – local officials and state lawmakers and even a now former School Board member or two,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
The facility, with a 12,000-square-foot auditorium and nearly 75,000 square feet of space in the administration building, provides CCSD with the professional office, meeting and training space it needs today, with room for future growth. The Divisions of Communications, Curriculum and Instruction, Financial Management, Human Resources, School Operations and the Superintendent’s Office now can be housed together under one roof.
“We’re able to celebrate tonight because of our community’s support,” Dr. Hightower said. “Without our neighbors supporting the continuation of our 1-percent Education SPLOST sales tax, we would not have been able to build or significantly improve 20 schools over the last 15 years, and we would not have been able to finally build this professional facility for our outstanding District leadership team and our community.”
Dr. Hightower noted that the facility not only increases CCSD’s operational efficiency as a major business enterprise, it also is energy and resource efficient, with great care taken in incorporating features such as LED lighting throughout, locally resourced materials, drought-resistant landscaping and heat-reflective window panels.
Kenneth Harless served as architect for the facility, which was constructed by Womack, Lewis & Smith. CCSD Chief Support Services Officer Bill Sebring led the project with Director of Facility Construction Phil Parrott and Supervisor of Construction Steve Werner.
The celebration on Thursday included a dedication ceremony and unveiling of plaques honoring Dr. Petruzielo to be displayed in both buildings, as well as a ribbon cutting, building tours and a reception sponsored by the Cherokee County Educational Foundation (CCEF), which was established during the former Superintendent’s tenure.
“While this building is named in his honor, his real legacy is far greater than what can be captured in bricks and mortar,” Dr. Hightower said. “His legacy is the successful organization and operations of our school district, a generation of leaders he cultivated, and the thousands and thousands of students and families whose futures he made so much brighter.”
The ceremony on Thursday also marked the installation of the inaugural class of the Cherokee County Educators Hall of Fame. An initiative of CCEF, the Hall of Fame annually will welcome new members in recognition of their exceptional service to public education in our community. A plaque listing Hall of Fame members is housed in the new auditorium.
The inaugural class is made up of Dr. Petruzielo and retired Superintendent of Schools Gene Norton, retired Assistant Superintendent Janice Prather, retired Principal Dr. Frankie Shepherd and former CCSD teacher and current School Board Member Patsy Jordan.