With a new building for grades sixth through eighth, Ridge Spring-Monetta High School will add “Middle” to its name when the doors open formally on Monday.


There’s a bonus, too – a state-of-the-art cafeteria and kitchen, larger than any other in the Aiken County School District.


Glenda Wafford, the District’s food service director, had visited Mid-Carolina High School in Prosperity during the design process to see its food court concept.


“It’s very exciting to see this coming to fruition,” she said. “This is something we’ve needed for a long time. There’s nothing like this in the District.”


The cafeteria will provide four serving lines – salads, pizza, home-style and sandwiches. Currently, Ridge Spring-Monetta has three cafeteria workers and will get four more next week.


The high school facility is about 60 years old, and so is the elementary building that had housed the middle school grades until now. In the long-term, the high school will be rebuilt on site. A new elementary building would be constructed on the high school campus.


In the upcoming general election in November, the Aiken County Board of Education will formally ask voters to approve a one-cent sales tax increase. That would generate about $125 million over 10 years for new construction. The School District could accelerate the Ridge Spring-Monetta projects by several years. The cafeteria would be in place when the main campus houses grades K through 12.


In 2013, the District completed a modern, smaller cafeteria and kitchen at Jackson Middle School. For the first time, the District included monitors that can display menus and other information. The Ridge Spring-Monetta cafeteria will also show menu choices via monitors.


“They also will provide allergy warnings and nutritional values,” said Wafford. “The monitors can show football highlights and any other kind of activities. Anybody can send me pictures.”


The new addition will be appreciated by Ridge Spring and Monetta communities, said Principal Warren Wintrode.


“It’s truly a farming community with a lot of pride,” he said. “This is something the people can rally around.”


Students will report to school on Monday. On Saturday, the school will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Families and other residents are invited to come by and see where classes are.


“It’s all coming together,” Wintrode said.


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter.