By Jeremy Wise, Army Flier StaffFebruary 25, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- One of the hallmark phrases in the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" is "If you build it, they will come." For the Enterprise City Schools system, "they" will be about 1,500 Fort Rucker and Enterprise students when the new Enterprise High School opens in mid-August.
A March 1, 2007, tornado destroyed much of the old school and killed eight students. Since then, EHS students attended classes in multiple portable buildings and classrooms at four different campuses across the city while the new school is constructed.
Dr. Jim Reese, Enterprise City Schools superintendent, applauds the townspeople's patience with the construction process, especially the 2010 seniors, who have not had a "stable" high school environment during their secondary studies.
"I can't say enough about how they've handled the situation despite the inconvenience. They have demonstrated what resiliency means," he said. "While it's been difficult, it's also been rewarding to see people come together and work through adversity."
City school workers, residents and students will finally realize the three-year dream when school opens Aug. 18 for teachers and Aug. 23 for students. About 60 percent of the project is completed, according to Bob Tomberlin, who is Reese's administrative assistant and provides construction oversight for the school system.
The more than 500,000-square foot building holds 103 classrooms across three floors, a 1,800-seat auditorium, a 675-seat cafeteria, two gymnasiums, automotive craft and woodworking shops and a JROTC building and firing range.
Additionally, an 8,000-seat football stadium and two soccer/band fields adjoin the main academic complex on the campus, located off West Main Street and Boll Weevil Circle.
Tomberlin said the major project Brasfield and Gorrie contractors must tackle is finishing the interior work. Construction crews recently began installing cabinets and painting the inside walls, he added.
Weather delays, especially the heavy December 2009 rains, have put the project about six weeks behind schedule, Tomberlin said, facilitating a decision to push back the normal school start by about two weeks this summer.
Reese said school officials anticipated the delay late last year and designed the school calendar to compensate for the lost early-August days. Students and teachers will not enjoy a fall intercession like they have had in the past several years but will be off the entire week of Thanksgiving instead of two days like previous years.
The school year will end about a week later with students finishing June 9, 2011, he said.
When the new building opens, Reese said the system may see a surge of new students, but they have taken steps to accommodate them. Currently, officials project to have eight additional classrooms and incorporated room for construction of an additional 60 classrooms, if necessary.
He noted in the past nine years, the city's school system population increased by about 1,200 students.
"People realize the quality of education we provide, (kindergarten through 12th grade), and we believe people who have children will want to become residents," he said.
John Jennings, Fort Rucker Youth Education Support Services director/school liaison officer, said since the post does not have its own junior high or high school, on-post Families can pick register their children in the Enterprise, Daleville or Ozark city schools systems. Jennings said all three offer on-post bus services.
Anyone not in a school system can register at any time, but Jennings urges Soldiers and Families to call ahead to ensure proper personnel are available, especially during the summer, to assist them.
For more registration information, call Jennings at 255-9812.