Students may want to get to Gulfport High School earlier than usual Tuesday for the first day of school in what is basically a completely new facility.
Renovations funded through a 2014 bond for $40 million are almost complete. And for the next few days, faculty and staff will be rushing to make sure every small detail has been completed.
“We started Phase One of the construction in 2016, and Phase Two will be completed by Tuesday, except for a new practice gym that will be completed in the spring of 2018,” GHS public information director MC Price said. “Some of the bond money also is being used for projects at Bayou View Middle School.”
Price said the renovations and new construction, which included demolishing what was known as the “main building,” makes the school a bit more user-friendly for the students.
“Gulfport High School is now much more like a college campus in that everything is interconnected by breezeways and walkways — it creates a square at the center of campus, which will mostly be a green space once the new practice gym is complete,” she said. “We had more than 70 entrances before the construction and now it’s all connected with gates around it, which makes it safer as well.
“We had teachers that had to change rooms several times and it was a lot for the students, but they were very patient and it will all pay off on Tuesday,” Price said.
The renovation project includes new classrooms, a new state-of-the-art culinary arts department, new band halls, new buildings, a new theater and three new pods — one for automotive, one for robotics and engineering and one for construction.
Kelsey Myrick, who graduated from GHS in 2008, has been teaching science at her alma mater for four years. She said she is very excited about her new classroom.
“I’m thrilled; it’s the first time I’ve had a ‘real’ science classroom,” Myrick said. “We now have easy access sinks, places for our microscopes — we have the space for a science class now.”
No more fish bowl
Price said one of the most infamous aspects of the school will also seem brand new.
The underwater scenes mural that adorned the walls of the cafeteria have been removed.
“The cafeteria is the same structurally, but it has been painted and there are also all new chairs and tables for the students,” she said. “The fish bowl is no more.”
A modern campus
GHS Principal Michael Lindsey said several factors played a role in the need for the upgrades.
“Safety was an issue because we always want for our students to be safe, but design was a big part of it, too,” Lindsey said. “There is controlled access to the campus and that was something they didn’t really think about back then — we have two entrances we will be using now.”
Lindsey said he expects about 1,550 students will be returning to school Tuesday. He said the new design will allow the school to serve as many as 1,800 students.
“The design has a lot of natural light and the technology has been upgraded as well — everything will be wireless,” he said.
But he said the school will not only look pleasing aesthetically, but it will also be more functional.
“The key in designing it was to design it around our career pathways and get our students better prepared for careers or college, whatever they decide to do,” Lindsey said.
School start dates
- Jackson County (East Central, St. Martin, Vancleave)
- Hancock County
- Long Beach
- Moss Point
- Ocean Springs
- Pass Christian
- Gulfport, sixth-graders
- Gulfport (other than sixth-graders, who start Aug. 7)
- Harrison County