Florida A&M University held a topping-off ceremony Thursday to acknowledge the near completion of the new FAMU Developmental Research School facility located on Wahnish Way.
Comprised of six separate buildings and set to open in January 2009, the new DRS facility will hold more than 400 students and include the latest computer technology.
In attendance at the ceremony were President James Ammons and Superintendent Ronald Holmes. Lunch was provided for all.
DRS reading instructor Roger Walker said the ceremony symbolized not only progress, but hope.
“The opening of this school is the ultimate and much needed morale booster for the students and faculty,” Walker said. “This new facility will allow us to further our commitment to enhance our teaching and allow us to continue to be a great learning facility.”
Walker said he believes Ammons has been important in the construction of the facilities and has created new ties for FAMU DRS.
“President Ammons has been at the forefront driving this project financially and making sure that the construction continues to move successfully,” he said. “Because of his persistence, this project has created an overwhelming amount of inquiries in regards to placement.”
Others said the construction has created ties and bonds have been strengthened by the project.
Derrick Wallace, chairman of Construct Two Group, the company that contracted the construction for the project, said he is honored to work for his alma mater.
“This experience is second to none,” Wallace said. “FAMU teaches you, allows you to gain experience in the field and permits you to come back and show your experience and education that you have received,” Wallace said. “This could only happen at a Historically Black University.”
After passing the FCAT and beginning construction on the new facility, many believe that the topping-off ceremony was a representation of greater things to come for FAMU DRS.
Angel Suri, information and communication specialist for FAMU, said the event represented what FAMU is all about.
“This is a landmark for DRS and the University,” Suri said. “Receiving a “C” on the FCAT gave DRS a new start and with the help of the College of Education and FAMU, we can start a new chapter.”
For Wallace, the project is considered a milestone because FAMU has made strides to employ its alumni and people of color.
“The task is the largest construction project ever awarded to an African-American management firm by a university in the State University System of Florida,” he said.