By D. Mark Mitchell
Sports Editor

Opelika High School held graduation ceremonies last Friday night at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium in front of a packed crowd, or as I would say during a broadcast “a sellout crowd.”

OHS Principal Dr. Ferrell Seymore, OCS Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Neighbors and the members of the Opelika City Schools Board of Education presented the graduates with their diplomas.

This was the last official act of the 2011-2012 school year.

The class of 2012 holds a little piece of history: it is the last class to graduate from the high school as we know it now. Construction crews will start to build a new school around the buildings (OPAC, choir room, theatre department, band room, learning resource center, science building, new gym and the athletic building) that were added after the high school was originally constructed.

Mobile units will be used as classrooms while the construction is going on. When the construction is finished OHS will have a first class high school with the most modern technology that is currently available. Main Street will be cut in half, The school will have a separate cafeteria, a new entrance to the school that will match up with Lake Condy road, new parking lots, a new look to the front of the school, more efficient heating and cooling units, windows in the classrooms, a new technical area and a new trade area including auto mechanics and improvements to the horticulture department. There will be two levels in one part of the school, an area that can be used if the system needs to come back and add another wing at a later date and Bulldog Stadium will get a face lift.

The existing athletic department will be upgraded and used for our female athletes. OHS will be the first school in our area to have a separate athletic facility facility for females.The stadium has new lights and poles that were installed after this year’s football season, a new scoreboard, an artificial turf field, additional seats on both sides, aluminum seats that will be on top of the cement stands, a new entrance, restrooms, concession stands and a athletic building equipped with a locker room that will dress 100 players comfortably, a new weight room, offices and a practice area. Opelike will be the fourth school in the area (and the third in the county) to improve athletic facilities. Auburn, Central and Smiths Station have upgraded stadiums, dressing rooms and facilities.

Opelika Mayor Gay Fuller, council members Eddie Smith, Patsy Jones, Larry Gray, Joey Motley and David Canon stepped up and passed a one cent sales tax to help build this new school as well as help with road projects around the city. These city leaders will go down in history as the group that did the right thing for the City of Opelika and its people. The bold move to pass a tax was a tough decision but a decision that had to be made because we had to fix our high school.

Again, I want to thank each of you for passing the tax and making these improvements possible. I am a proud citizen of Opelika who is glad you stepped up and made the right decision.

Now we all need to sit back and relax while the crews construct the new school. For me, the best way to view the situation is “pardon our progress while we build for the future.”