High school community officially opens new gym
By Kathryn Purcell
Many months of planning and construction came to fruition Thursday, as the Morgan County High School student body, teachers, Board of Education employees and community members packed the seats to officially open the school’s newest addition – a gymnasium which, at over 39,000 square feet, cost more than $5.25 million and is capable of seating 1,500 people.
Senior Class President Gary Walker hosted the event, and began by recounting the old gym’s past and the new gym’s hopeful future.
“In our new gym, we have a lot to live up to, but we know our present coaches and players will raise the bar higher,” Walker said, speaking through enthusiastic applause from fellow students. “We must be willing to learn the lesson of preparation, for that is the key to winning. Welcome to our new home, our new facility, our new gym!”
After the National Anthem, a performance of “Brand New Day” by student Kiki Withrow that had the entire gym clapping and the recognition of the Morgan County Board of Education, Senior Class Vice President Leslie Vestal introduced the speaker of the hour, Bill Horton, who, now retired, joined the faculty of Morgan County High School in 1982.
Horton spoke of his memories of the old gym, the many goings-on that the building housed in its time in use – from Physical Education classes to athletic events to graduations. He also spoke of growth, in both class sizes and athletic teams, since his time at the school and highlighted the need the new gym will fill.
“The building’s impressive,” Horton said. “It shows how much this community cares for its youth.”
Following a performance of “For Good” by students Emily DeJarnett and Annabeth Spence, Walker introduced Morgan County Superintendent Stan DeJarnett, who recounted his experiences in the gym of his alma mater. In his experience, he shared, the high school gym served not solely as a building for housing sporting events, but as the last place his entire class gathered together before going their separate ways in life.
“Buildings represent lots of things,” DeJarnett said. “This will be the last building you walk through before you walk through its doors and receive your high school diploma.”
DeJarnett then introduced Director of Operations Bob Monk, who oversaw the construction of the gymnasium. Monk individually recognized the many people it took to actually build the gym, and thanked each of them.
After a performance of the song “Dance” by student Shelby McLeod, Walker again took the podium to begin the recognition of classes and sports teams slated to use the gym – the volleyball team, cheerleading squad, men’s basketball team, women’s basketball team, wrestling team and each of the Physical Education classes. Each team carried a banner, all of which formerly hung in the old gym, to now be posted in the new facility.
Student Body presidents Dylan Davis and Gareth Newton then officially dedicated the new gymnasium, saying “We outgrew the previous gym, but we didn’t leave behind the legacy of those who came before us…We dedicate the new gym to students, past and present, of Morgan County High School.”
To conclude that portion of the program, coaches Steve Cisson and Donald Harris took a shot at the first free throws. After both men made the basket, students erupted in loud applause, a hopeful preview of things to come.