Students already appreciate their new Central High School

Thursday, August 22, 2002

There's a cappuccino machine in the library, a seven-station food court in the cafeteria and a "smart classroom" filled with the latest technological innovations.

With all the amenities at the new Central High School, students may actually want to go there.

"It reminds me of those teen movies where they have the amazing high schools," said senior Lisa Crain. "It's awesome. Coming from the old building, this is a huge step up, and I'm really excited."

Fellow senior Andrew Moreton agreed that the new building is a huge improvement over the Caruthers Street campus.

"There's a lot more technology, and the facilities are impressive. It's also a better learning environment," Moreton said.

The school held an early registration session this week to give students and their parents a chance to check out the new $17-million facility, which was paid for through a bond series issued in 2000.

According to senior Lauren Parrent, having a new building to start school in makes giving up the freedom of summer much easier.

"I'm so much more excited to start school because the building is so incredible," she said.

More than anything else, Parrent said she's looking forward to having air-conditioned classrooms, a luxury unavailable at the old high school.

"In honor of finally having it, the student senate has decided to wear snow day clothes on the first day of school," she said.

Air conditioning is just one change at the new Central. For the first time, students will face a closed-campus policy, which will prevent them from leaving campus for lunch.

To supplement the new policy, the school made huge expansions in the number of cafeteria food choices. The new cafeteria design incorporates seven food stations, including a deli, pizza stand, pasta area and a salad bar.

While some students say the closed-campus policy turns the school into a prison, others feel it's no big deal.

"A closed campus really doesn't bother me. It was hectic trying to drive somewhere for lunch," Crain said. "The food here isn't bad, and I'll save so much money. Besides, it's healthier to eat at school."

What's missing

Crain said there are a few important things missing at the new facility, like an auditorium for drama classes and a pool for the swim team. But she's glad the district went ahead with the project instead of waiting for the additional money to build those things.

"The benefits greatly outweigh the downfalls. There's no comparison," Crain said.

Despite the advantages of the new facility, there's still a lingering loyalty to the old campus for some students.

"It's a nice building, but I'd rather be at the old high school," said senior Darin Teague.

After you've been there two years, you want to graduate from there, Teague said.

High school principal Mike Cowan said he understands that attachment to the former campus, and he realizes the transition will be a big adjustment for students.

"For the vast majority of upperclassmen, the new building doesn't feel like home yet," Cowan said.

Dealing with changes like the closed-campus policy is part of making the adjustment.

"In our new location, a closed campus is a practical reality because the underclassmen don't have vehicles, and there are no eating places within walking distance," Cowan said.

"Unfortunately, in this day and age, school security is also an issue. With a closed campus, we'll be able to control the going and coming of students," he continued.

Cowan said another big difference at the new high school is the addition of the freshman class. The old high school only housed grades 10 through 12.

"I welcome our freshmen. Having a four-year high school will be a great benefit academically," Cowan said.

"Freshmen tend to settle down in the presence of upperclassmen," he said.

Moving the ninth graders to the high school allowed the district to reconfigure Central Junior High to include seventh and eighth grades and implement a new Central Middle School for fifth and sixth graders.

cchitwood@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

BACK TO SCHOOL

Cape Girardeau schools begin Tuesday, Sept. 3. The starting/ending times will be:

Elementary school, Central Middle School: 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Central Junior High School: 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Central High School: 7:40 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. Notes

  • Central Middle School will hold student orientation from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 27 and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 28.

    On Aug. 29, there will be a special orientation for parents only. Middle school counselors are now available for new enrollment.

    For more information, contact the Central Middle School office at 334-6281.

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