BHS opens its doors

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The elderly in their 80s coming in wheelchairs or young couples rolling strollers with a possible member of the Class of 2022 in it, the new Bainbridge High School opened its doors to the community Sunday.

With looks of awe and mutterings of “This is super,” or “Boy, it’s huge!” at least 100 persons walked the halls of the more than 378,000-square-foot school that will open for business on Friday, the first day of school in Decatur County.

Many were dressed in their Sunday best and others were dressed in casual shorts and sandals.

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Lester Burns, 80, was rolling his wife, Valie, 79, around in a wheelchair Sunday to see for themselves the state-of-the-art school.

“It’s nice, real nice,” he said.

Kenneth Pearson, who had attended high school in Decatur County at the old Potter Street location, said the gym was impressive, which was where School Superintendent Ralph Jones and BHS Principal Tommie Howell first welcomed everyone.

After their introductions, some of the persons wanting to see the new school broke into guided tours, which some participants said their got separated from their tour guide. Nonetheless, after negotiating the wide hallways, citizens peeked into classrooms, each furnished with a large-screen TVs that a teacher can use to tie into the Internet and in turn offer students a virtual tour of the Smithsonian Institution or outer space.

“This is Seventh Heaven,” Pearson concluded, saying the approximately $113 to $120 per square foot for completion of the school is “pretty cheap.”

Greg Ingram really like the atrium, saying it’s more like a traffic circle, with wings going in different directions but that are marked well.

Howell told the audience that each classroom is marked with four digits as well—the first digit denoting the wing of where the classroom is, the second digit denoting which of the two floors it is on and the last two digits denoting the actual classroom number.

“I’ve been to a lot of schools, but this is real nice,” Ingram said.

Jim Cerone, a retired 26-year veteran of the Broward County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department, said the new school is equal or better to some of the schools from the South Florida area which he and his family moved from.

Cerone, who has two daughters, one a junior and one still in middle school, said he liked the school this far out of the center of town and the single entrance into and out of the school.

“I’m impressed. They did a real nice job,” Cerone said. “The area is growing. They need this to bring people and businesses here.”

Benny Williams, a bus driver for the school system, showed his wheelchair-bound wife, Lelois, the new campus. She is a retired school bus driver.

“It’s amazing. I don’t think it look like a school. It look like a university,” Benny Williams said.

That’s music to Jones’ ears, who said that the look the Board of Education wanted—for Bainbridge High School to look like an institution of higher learning.

Erick Juarez, a senior at BHS who is a member of the Junior ROTC, said likes the size of the school and the architecture.

“It’s a look of professionalism,” said Juarez. “This would give hope for any Decatur County student to do better in their studies.”

Roger Johnson and his son Chris, who is an eighth-grader at Bainbridge Middle School and a football player, were admiring the weight room and cheerleading practice building behind the gym.

Mr. Johnson said the school is comparable to many smaller colleges, and he said with this being the second year of Bearcats head coach Ed Pilcher plus the new school, that this may be the year Bainbridge brings home some “hardware.”

“You have everything you need for a championship,” he said. “You can feel the excitement.”