<b>HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga.</b> - Military and civilian leaders broke ground on Hunter Army Airfield, Aug. 24, at the Pulaski Elementary School site on South Perimeter Road where a new school building will replace the existing one, located just beyond the Montgomery Street Gate.

"This is really fantastic," said Kamal Piankhi, Pulaski Elementary School principal, before the ceremony. "The staff is so energized about this new state-of-the-art school. We've been talking about it for some time now; we're grateful that the plans finally came together."

About 50 percent of the children currently enrolled at Pulaski Elementary School have one or more parents in the military, according to Piankhi.

Relocating a public school onto government-owned property at Hunter Army Airfield is a first for the Savannah Chatham County Public School System.

According to Calvin Shipman, project manager, Hunter's Directorate of Public Works, initiatives to locate the school on Hunter started in 2008 with a request from the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System. A draft concept was approved in 2009, and the lease was signed and executed by the U.S. Savannah District Corps of Engineers in August 2010.

Military leaders, such as Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar, Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, believe the move onto Hunter property makes good sense.

"We get a new school that's closer for our military children; and the school gets to continue to operate at its present location without disruption during the 10 months of construction on the new school, located on Hunter," he said. "Both parties have put lots of effort into bringing this initiative to fruition. It's indicative of the symbiotic relationship we have with the City of Savannah."

"This is a great day for Pulaski," said Dr. Joe Buck, Savannah Chatham Public School Board president, who spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony. "Walking into a new building will make all the difference in the morale of students and the staff."

The 89,762 square-foot school will be located on the grounds of Hunter, but civilian children and staff members will access it from an secure entrance located on Tibet Avenue.

It will feature 38 classrooms for pre-kindergarten through 5th grade students; music and art classrooms and a computer/technology lab. Other features include an 8,000 square-foot physical education facility with a full-size gymnasium; a cafeteria for after-school activities, which includes a stage for productions and assemblies; a 7,700 square-foot media center.

"We know the importance of investing in our children," said Lt. Col. Aguilar. "It's both military and civilian kids who reap the benefits."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16