More than 200 people, including city, county and school officials as well as fifth-graders from Orange Beach Elementary School, gathered on Friday morning on 40 city-donated acres in Orange Beach that will soon be home to the new Orange Beach High/Middle School.
The day marked the official groundbreaking and unveiling of the long-awaited school that will be built on the Canal Road site at William Silvers Parkway.
“This is a game changer in my humble opinion for the city of Orange Beach.” Mayor Tony Kennon said during the ceremony. “We have always been a wonderful community and a place to find family values, tradition, safety, protection but with this school, in my humble opinion, it completes us. It makes us that multi-generational community that I think we’re lacking in some ways.”
The city has been working closely with Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler and the county school board to make the school a reality, starting with the donation of 40 acres, which is valued at more than $6 million. The new Orange Beach Middle and High School will include 101,000 square feet of education space and is estimated to cost $16.1 million, which will be funded by Baldwin County Public Schools via its $60 million, 4-year "pay-as-you-go" program. In addition to the main school areas, the city will be funding a performing arts center and future athletic fields on the site.
Mayor Kennon said it is his goal to ensure the school will not only be the best in the county and state but nationally recognized, based on excellence.
“We’re going to accomplish that in a very short period of time because I know the county is going to bring in excellent principals, assistant principals, teachers and support staff that’s going to be there and completely support our image of what excellence is,” Mayor Kennon said. “And I believe that with all of my heart. I want to thank the board members.”
Mayor Kennon also introduced the new school mascot, the Orange Beach Mako Sharks, with the motto “Show Your Teeth.”
“We want to start tradition today,” Mayor Kennon said. “I want these kids to realise this is special.”
Being a part of Baldwin County schools for 42 years, Superintendent Tyler said he’s been part of game changers like this new Orange Beach school before. He noted the opening of Daphne HIgh School in 1989 and the opening of Elberta High last year and how those schools changed Daphne and Elberta for the better.
“This is a true cultural game changer for the City of Orange Beach,” Superintendent Tyler said. “People come here because they know all about you - the sun, the fun, the beach - all of those things. And what I like, you keep it family oriented and that’s hard to do sometimes. But you will be getting a state-of-the-art school … and it’s because of a partnership.”
Tyler went on to say that it was a historic day.
“A lot of people have said this would never happen. Never,” Superintendent Tyler said. “Well, I’ll tell you right now it’s happening, there is no going back. I mean what a fantastic opportunity we have in front of us."
Site preparation work will begin soon and construction is set to begin mid-July.