But the school — Central High of Clay County — represents something much larger for modern-day Alabama: the results of investing in public education.
Time will tell if Central High, which was featured in a story in last Friday’s Star, succeeds at the daunting task of joining Clay County High and Lineville High into a cohesive, revered northeast Alabama school. We expect it will.
Time, however, isn’t needed for Central to serve as an example of what happens when smart decisions and ample money are combined on public education. In Clay County, that mixture has turned problems — the aging buildings of the previous smaller schools — into a positive.
As a result, Central will offer Clay County students modern classrooms, expanded facilities and, if possible, a burgeoning sense of excitement for the coming school year. Let’s be honest: How many times do students get to walk onto a recently built campus on the first day of an academic year?
Clay County students are fortunate, indeed.
Admittedly, money isn’t the salve that soothes all of Alabama’s educational deficiencies — though without it, progress often seems unreachable. Minus ample funding for facilities and top-flight teachers, buildings decay, books and computers are worn out from use and educators are under-paid or let go. Schools are expensive. That fiscal need has to be fed.
Central High, of course, is a unique case of two rival schools merging into one under a new banner and on a new campus. That doesn’t happen every day.
And, in this case, it’s not simply a matter of constructing a $30 million campus. Central High will open Aug. 20 because Clay Countians invested their time and their patience in the arduous decision to close two beloved schools. It was not a decision made quickly or without pain. But it was the right decision.
The outcome is a model for public education in this state, which so often is headlined by its deficiencies, its wants and its leadership. Good people invested much into the dream of creating what’s best for Clay County students.
Perhaps it’s best to hear the comment of Carlena Holton, of Lineville, who will be a senior at Central High this fall.
“You walk inside of it and you’re like, dang, I’m going to go to this school. We’re coming to something that’s really big and amazing with lots of opportunities,” she told The Star.
Amazing. Opportunities. Isn’t that what education is supposed to be all about?