Pearson family with students from MLK Elementary and dignitaries

Community celebrates historic groundbreaking of the new Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School

May 23, 2022 – Dozens of families, community members, dignitaries, and school and district staff celebrated a historic moment on Friday at the formal groundbreaking ceremony of the new Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School, which will be the first major rebuild under the district’s master facilities plan.

The new elementary school is expected to open Aug. 2023 and will combine Henry F. Kite, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rutledge H. Pearson elementary schools into one large community elementary school.

It’s anticipated to focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) with classrooms and building structures that can adapt to the needs of the students.

Even with unexpected weather activity that caused the cancellation of the family-fun portion of the groundbreaking, the event went on with great success. Students from all three elementary schools participated in the event, with Martin Luther King Jr.’s drumline opening the show with their 17-student performance. Henry F. Kite’s students performed an acapella rendition of “We Are Family” and Rutledge H. Pearson had a student lead the pledge and take part in other portions of the event. Families and guests were able to view these amazing productions before indulging in refreshments.

History of Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary

The land where Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School stands was purchased by the district on November 1, 1955. The 14-acre property, surveyed in 1963, would soon hold school No. 9, Sherwood Forest Elementary School. On October 9, 1994, the district held a dedication ceremony for the school’s name to be changed from Sherwood Forest Elementary School to Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School.

The old building, and soon to be new building, honors a local 1960s civil rights era icon Rutledge H. Pearson.  Pearson died in 1967 but his legacy lives on in the Jacksonville community. Lloyd Pearson, the biological brother of Rutledge H. Pearson, and the Pearson family were in attendance to witness this historic moment that highlights the beginning of an expansion of their family member’s legacy.

Things to know about the transition

  • 2022-23 – Students from Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School will attend school on the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School campus. The two schools will be operating on the same campus for one year.
  • 2023-24 – All three elementary schools (Henry F. Kite, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rutledge H. Pearson) will transition to the new campus.

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