Rising above rivalry: New high school excites Clay Countians
by Laura Johnson
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Aug 03, 2012 | 4183 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A science classroom is shown at Central High School of Clay County. The new school "opens for business" later this month. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
A science classroom is shown at Central High School of Clay County. The new school "opens for business" later this month. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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CLAY COUNTY — Kathy Crenshaw said she spent the last 29 years of her teaching career in the same classroom at Lineville High School. She considered it home, but these days she isn’t looking back with regret.

Crenshaw is one of about 50 teachers who will move into classrooms at Central High School of Clay County in the next three weeks. The math teacher said she is so impressed by the new space that she is refinishing her old file cabinet before she brings it into her new classroom.

“I think sometimes it’s hard to change, but I think this change is going to be for the better,” Crenshaw said. “Our old school was nice, but this is all newer and neater.”

Students attending band camp at the high school Thursday said they were overwhelmed by the new accommodations. They liked the automatic soap dispensers in the bathrooms and the café’-style seating in the high school cafeteria.

On August 20, students from Ashland and Lineville will attend the new school for the first time, but it won’t be the first chance community members have had to see it. Superintendent Garey Reynolds has hosted periodic tours of the school during construction and on Aug. 12 the school will host an open house for the public at large.

For months officials have planned for the transition to the new school, and for months students, teachers and community members have wondered how smoothly the transition would go.

“You’re bringing two schools that have competed very hard against each other together. That’s an adjustment that’s going well, I think from what I’ve observed,” Reynolds said. “One thing that has probably facilitated and made it better is the fact of what we’re going into compared to what we’re coming from.”

The Clay County communities of Ashland and Lineville have been deeply divided over a high school rivalry that some liken to Alabama versus Auburn. The new school will combine students from the former Clay County High School, which was in Ashland, and the old Lineville High School.

The old high schools were smaller and built in the first half of the previous century. The new school, for grades 7-12, boasts not just a campus, but a complex — seven buildings enclosing 180,000 square feet. The cost of construction was roughly $30 million.

It comprises 4,000 cubic yards of concrete, 425,000 blocks and 8,000 bricks said Chase Norton, assistant project manager of the construction project. He is employed by RA-LIN & Associates, Inc., the Georgia-based company that's been building the school.

The main building on campus is characterized by large white columns and a brick exterior. Designated Building A, it houses administrative offices, a campus library and grades 9-12. It also includes two new science labs, one for biology courses and another for chemistry courses.

The seventh- and eighth-graders will be housed in Building B. It, too, boasts a science lab.

Building C includes a campus kitchen, two dining areas, the band room, a greenhouse and a shop for technical training courses.

Building D will include two gyms, concession stands and extra amenities, such as changing rooms for male and female referees. The main gym is equipped with a stage and will serve as an auditorium for plays and similar events.

Buildings A, B, C and D are built around a manicured courtyard with a school monument.

A 4,000-seat football stadium is within walking distance of the academic buildings. It features a field house with a new weight room, two locker rooms and a meeting room for football teams.

Across near the football field new unmarked baseball diamonds are surrounded by chain-link fences. The fields are accompanied by a bricked press box with large windows for announcers and viewers.

In a region that's felt the tragic effects of violent storms, perhaps the most valuable feature at the new school is dual storm shelters, one in each academic building. The shelter areas have 12-inch masonry walls, reinforced with steel. The ceilings are fashioned from steel beams and concrete, and each shelter is flanked by hall doors that are designed for storm shelters. Window in the classrooms that join the hall can be closed with large metal storm-ready doors.

“It really is just a concrete shell, basically,” Norton said.

He said the shelter is a unique aspect of the whole project.

Whether in a shelter or in a classroom, those bricks and building materials seem to be bringing people together, students say. They believe they will have more opportunities at the new school than they did at their old ones.

“You walk inside of it and you’re like, dang, I’m going to go to this school,” said Carlena Holton, a former Lineville High School student who will be a senior at the new school. “We’re coming to something that’s really big and amazing with lots of opportunities.”

Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter@ LJohnson_star.
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