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Community’s dedication seen in new school, official says

Visitors gave good reviews to a new-look Brookhaven High Schoolas school officials held a dedication ceremony Monday to celebratethe expansion and renovation of the “Grand Old Lady.”

“Oohs” and “aahs” echoed through the halls as local residentshad their first opportunity to tour the new facility following theMonday morning ceremony.

“It’s great. It’s a lot bigger than it used to be, and it’s justso nice,” said Ruth Reynolds, a 1949 BHS graduate who is part ofthree generations who finished at the school.

Residents were not only amazed at how expansive the new buildingis, but also by the intricate details that went into creating the97,316 square foot facility.

“It’s fantastic the way they took the old and integrated it withthe new,” said Kenneth Warren, a 1955 graduate and retiredteacher.

He and his wife, Patsy, liked how the design of the new facilityallowed them to remember the way the school looked when theyattended, yet it was improved upon as well.

“It’s like we still have our old school and the next generationhas a new school at the same time,” said Mrs. Warren, who alsograduated from BHS in 1955.

Superintendent Dr. Sam Bounds said preserving the character ofthe “historical landmark” was a top priority in the project. Heexpressed his approval to a crowd of over 200 people gathered forthe dedication ceremony in the new media center, which is locatedin the new east wing of the building.

“Brookhaven does not settle for second best,” he said. “This isa place where the leaders of tomorrow will be molded.”

Bounds commended the board of trustees for “working diligentlyto fulfill the needs of (the) community” by striving to bring afacility to Brookhaven that is “second to none” in the state ofMississippi. He also thanked the voters for passing a $7.5 millionbond issue with a 75 percent approval rate in 1999.

“It is a product of an entire community coming together to worktoward a dream,” said Bounds.

The first day of classes for students in the renovated buildingis April 2.

Bounds was joined in his remarks by several board members anddistrict officials praising the patience, dedication and support oflocal residents.

“It shows the community’s commitment to public education.Everybody in the community deserves a pat on the back,” said AmyValentine, a long-time member of the board of trustees.

Former Legislator Grey Ferris, who was head of the educationcommittee when $3.5 million in state funding was appropriated forthe project, pointed out that the school was a reflection of thecommunity. The state funds were allocated to BHS to help it prepareto teach some courses for Mississippi School of the Artsstudents.

Ferris noted that cities in Mississippi with strong schoolsystems prosper in other areas as well.

“Public education is so important to everyone in the state ofMississippi,” said Ferris.

School Board Member Dr. Prentiss L. Smith spoke to the group oflocal residents, district officials, city representatives andlegislators about the board’s belief in the importance of providingsuch a facility to the deserving Brookhaven students andteachers.

“This outstanding school structure is appropriate for ouroutstanding students and teachers,” said Smith.

Local residents were encouraged to take a close look at the manyopportunities the school will provide with the latest technology,spacious classrooms and new equipment.

“There was a steady stream of people all day,” said Bounds,mentioning that it was estimated about 1,500 people toured theschool Monday.

Bounds highlighted several areas of interest to the crowd andasked them to take as long as they would like to tour the school,which remained open until 6 p.m. Monday.

He mentioned the Tech Prep class in the old library, the sciencelabs with computer stations, Internet access in all classrooms andthe renovated auditorium that includes the original 1939 seats,which have been refurbished.

“Also, the panther fountain at the front of the building hasbeen restored, much to the delight of many,” he said.