A plaque in front of the gymnasium was fixed to dedicate the gymnasium to Randall Middle School’s first principal, Marcia Elliott.

Randall Middle School dedicated the gymnasium to its inaugural principal, Marcia Elliott, at the end of February.

Elliott served as Randall’s principal from its opening in 2000 until 2008 and was responsible for laying the foundation of a productive learning and teaching atmosphere for students and faculty.

“It was challenging at first because I wanted everything to be perfect for everybody. I wanted an atmosphere that everyone could live and learn and be free of having to worry about anything,” said Elliott. “… I wanted everybody to feel [like] a part of the school.”

The gymnasium was officially proclaimed the Marcia Elliott Gymnasium by the school board at the beginning of 2020 for the school’s 20th anniversary. The gymnasium was chosen because, prior to serving as Randall’s principal, Elliott was a physical education teacher. Due to COVID-19, the school did not have a chance to host a gathering of current and retired faculty and staff to recognize Elliott until this year.

“When she was here, she set a very strong foundation for both academics and student behavior. And it’s very hard to open a school because, not only do you have to oversee the physical building of the school, but you have to build the camaraderie,” said Claire Mawhinney, current principal of Randall.

When Randall’s middle school team was founded, Elliott appealed to local teachers to come join her new staff and establish a school that the community would trust to educate their kids. She also broke from the traditional seven-period structure followed by most schools and established a five-in-five block that would allow teachers to fully dive into a topic and ensure their students understood it before going home for the day.

“It’s always student-focused, and that’s always what we’re trying to do, and she really drilled that home. And I think that has carried on,” said media specialist Cynthia Hardy, who has worked at Randall since it opened.

Elliott’s contributions to Randall Middle School extended beyond overseeing the construction of the building and formation of a teaching staff. As the inaugural principal, she was responsible for establishing a mission statement, teaching environment and student code of conduct that would withstand community, generational and social changes in the following years.

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.