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After 53 years, Little Rock bids farewell to McClellan Magnet High School

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Daniel Breen
/
KUAR News
Little Rock School Superintendent Mike Poore holds a symbolic baton in front of the former McClellan Magnet High School building in southwest Little Rock.

Alumni of a former Little Rock high school are saying one last goodbye to their alma mater before it's demolished with a new K-8 school to be built in its place.

Officials with the Little Rock School District held a “passing of the baton” ceremony at the former McClellan Magnet High School. The facility in southwest Little Rock was closed in 2020 after 53 years in operation.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist John Brummett, who graduated from McClellan in the early ‘70s, said the occasion was bittersweet.

“We are sad it’s getting ready to come down, but for me, that sadness is tempered by the fact that a brand new, sparkling, shiny, state-of-the-art, vibrant, vital, high performance, high accomplishment place is getting ready to rise right here for a new generation,” Brummett said.

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Daniel Breen
/
KUAR News
An artist's renderings portray the new K-8 facility set to replace the former McClellan Magnet High School.

Construction on the new $85 million school is set to begin later this year. Superintendent Mike Poore said the new facility will help bring high-quality education to a traditionally underserved part of the city.

“I think there was great skepticism… that we were never going to get someplace in the southwest. We now have a state-of-the-art high school in Southwest High. That’s the best high school I would imagine anywhere in the southwest and we plan to do the same thing right here with this campus and make it state-of-the-art,” Poore said.

The new Little Rock Southwest High School opened in 2020 and replaced McClellan and J.A. Fair high schools. Construction for the new school is being funded by a $300 million millage extension passed by Little Rock voters last November

Poore said alumni are encouraged to submit items to be included in a time capsule on the school grounds. He said the district is soliciting suggestions for the mascot of the new K-8 school.