By Sara Wilson
For the Opelika Observer
The focus of this year’s “Business over Breakfast: Education Edition” event Thursday at the Saugahatchee Country Club was the growing success of Opelika City Schools.
Pam Powers-Smith, president of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, welcomed guests before chamber board member Chuck Beams led the audience in an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Carlton Hunley IV, chamber board chair, recognized the sponsors of this year’s event with Glynn Smith Chevrolet Buick-GMC being the presenting sponsor. The 2020 gold sponsors included Baxter International, First South Farm Credit, MAX, the Opelika-Auburn News and S & S Termite Pest Control, LLC.
Hunley also introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Farrell Seymore, who serves as the principal of Opelika High School.
Seymore began by presenting an overview of the high school. OHS is a full-functioning high school that offers many opportunities to its 1,250 students.
“We get all kinds of different needs, experiences and backgrounds, and our goal is to present the best opportunity for that child to grow and learn and be the best student they can be, but ultimately the best young adult and then citizen,” Seymore said.
One way that the high school does this is by offering a range of programs and curriculum. They offer a full course of classes in math, history, social science and science as well as three foreign language classes.
OHS also offers a variety of career and technical programs. These programs include business education, engineering, health sciences, education and training, culinary arts, information technology and video production.
Seymore said that through these programs they are trying to be responsive to what businesses and the community needs.
“We have a need for teachers in our community, and not just K-12, but also Pre-K and daycare. The education and training program help train our young people to work with other young people in the future,” Seymore said.
Seymore then focused on the data and trends OHS has seen during the last few years.
“Advanced Placement courses are college level courses that are offered at the high school level,” Seymore said.
The numbers of those enrolled have grown tremendously over the past eight years. In 2019, 257 students were enrolled in AP classes, the highest level of enrollment OHS has seen.
OHS partners with Southern Union State Community College to allow students to participate in dual-enrollment courses. Some of these courses are offered at the high school while others are offered solely at SUSCC. The school also has a dual-enrollment agreement with the University of Alabama.
Three emissaries from Opelika High School joined Seymore at the end of his presentation. These emissaries, student ambassadors for the school, spoke on how Opelika City Schools have prepared them for the next step in their lives.
Powers-Smith, along with a Metro City Bank representative, concluded the event by awarding Full Moon BBQ with the Small Business of the Quarter Award.