How About Some Liquor Tax Money For Central?

Sunday, September 1, 2013
Are there any funds in this liquor-by-the-drink "windfall" going to our schools to finish Central High School?  

The school was supposed to be built with a proper auditorium, band room and choir room 40 plus years ago

Just wondering.

Here's a column by Ray Walker, executive editor of the Central Digest: 

After 44 Years, Time To Finish Building Central

When Central High moved from downtown to its present location on State Highway 58, it was the best and nicest school in Hamilton County. At the time, newspaper articles marveled the new facility and its circular shape with spacious glass windows around the main hallway. The gym and JROTC areas were top-notch and the science labs and cafeteria were top-of-the line. But with all of the modern perks of the “new” Central, the school was never actually finished. A presumed lack of funding by the county led to a huge piece of Central missing. Central’s layout is different compared to most schools. In the center of the school is the library and offices with a cafeteria located on one side of the central “pod,” and branching off of that are different “pods” where the classrooms are located. 

The gym, which is separated from the main building, also houses the band room and choir room, along with a few additional classrooms and the JROTC program in the basement. This is not, however, how the school’s layout was originally designed in 1969. The main building was finished correctly, as was the gym, but noticeably missing from the “finished” building was the intended auditorium. A major part of any high school is an auditorium where the school can hold school assemblies, concerts, drama performances and even talent shows. 

Central was supposed to have all this and more, but the “home” of these events was never built. The school still conducts all these events such as  concerts and special events, but we currently lack the proper facility for every event. Just last year, our drama club had to perform some wonderful, well-thought out student written plays in the library. Even worse, the band and choir have to perform in the gym, where audiences have to sit in uncomfortable plastic gym chairs. Even some of Central’s most honored and tradition-rich assemblies like Senior Day and the presentation of homecoming court are being held in a hot, stuffy gym. The missing pod is supposed to house an area designed for assemblies and music concerts with a full stage and auditorium seating. The backstage is where the special soundproof band and choir rooms are meant to be, not beside the gym.  

Currently, students in gym have to listen to the wonderful, yet sometimes distracting, sound of the band playing. It also puts a harder job on our already stressed guidance counselors because they can’t schedule band and choir in the same block. Currently, students have to cram, shoulder-to-shoulder into a gym that’s originally designed only for physical education classes and basketball games, not to listen to a speaker from college, or hear students perform at the talent show. This shouldn’t be the case when we have schools within our same district just a few miles away where there are some constantly scarcely-full buildings and almost empty hallways. 

Central students are being unjustly ignored while other schools in the county get brand new facilities. We do not begrudge the students at Ooltewah Elementary or Red Bank Middle School which opened brand new schools this year. We just want the county to finish what it was obligated to build back in 1969. People need to understand that a school without an auditorium is like reading a book with a missing chapter. We deserve much, much better, yet it still seems like we’re always that last kid picked for dodge ball. This was proven last year when it took constant harassment from parents and students to get a leaky roof fixed —  and that was after seven years of leaking ceilings and mold infestations throughout the school! Without the help of students and parents, we will continue to be overlooked, and we will never get the auditorium we were promised. 

Current students, alumni, faculty, and everyone in our community need to make a stand for the school that we are proud of and fight for the right thing to be done. Central is still a great school. It isn’t uninhabitable and our facilities aren’t unbearable. All we ask for is what was promised to us that we never received all those years ago. 

Mike Green

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