The Liberty County School System is adding sports to its middle schools, and has plans to add more in the coming years.
At a town hall hosted by school board member Marcus Scott, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Zheadric Barbra said the school system has plans over the next two years to expand its middle school sports offerings.
The middle schools have had football, cheerleading, boys and girls basketball and boys and girls track. This year, they have added volleyball, boys and girls soccer and golf.
“We are so excited about it,” he said. “If more students are given an opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, their chances for academic, social and behavioral success will increase.”
Dr Barbra admitted they didn’t know how many kids would come out for golf but were surprised with the result.
“We were kind of iffy to see how many kids would participate,” he said. “Right now we have 25 people playing golf.”
The school system plans to add cross country next year and in 2024-25 add boys and girls tennis, baseball and softball.
That gives the system to find space and build baseball and softball facilities for the middle schools.
Liberty County’s middle schools play against each other and against middle schools from nearby counties. Dr. Barbra said there is no push to join a middle school league.
“We are not joining a conference yet,” he said. “We’re just not there.”
All three middle schools also have new weight rooms, and athletes are being shown the proper way to lift weights now, instead of learning when they get to high school, Dr. Barbra pointed out “So when they got off those buses in Long County and Ware County and people see them,” he said, “they look like ball players.”
The school system surveyed the students to determine which sports to add at the middle schools, Dr. Barbra said.
“It wasn’t just adults sitting in the room,” he said. “This is how we came up with what they wanted at the middle school level.”
The school system also has invested in its high school programs and facilities, Dr. Barbra noted, with improvements at both the Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School gyms. Liberty will be getting new field turf surfaces at its baseball and softball fields, such as the kind Bradwell has at its baseball field now. Bradwell’s softball field also will be going to a field turf surface.
Work is scheduled to start in May and will include new dugouts, renovated locker rooms and new press boxes. The total cost is anticipated to be $3 million, with the money from education special local option sales tax proceeds.
The track at each high school has been resurfaced, and the Bradwell tennis courts also have been resurfaced. The new track surface is expected to allow state-level meets to be held locally.
Lewis Frasier Middle School got a new scoreboard, and both Liberty and Bradwell have new jumbotrons at those football fields. The high school fields also will be moving to field turf.