Pelham High School additions a long-term benefit

With our high school football preparations in full swing, I spent a good bit of time recently hanging out at Pelham High School.

During the school year, I usually run by my alma mater to interview teachers, students and administrators for stories, attend special events and talk with classes several times a month, but summer usually limits my time spent at the enormous building on the hill.

The last time I visited PHS, the school year was winding down, and construction crews had just broken ground on cafeteria and classroom additions. At that time, the additions were little more than construction tape wrapped around piles of dirt and concrete foundations.

When I visited the school last week, the additions were almost complete. I was amazed at how fast the construction crews had gotten the new additions up and ready for the upcoming school year. One day last year, I spoke with PHS Principal Bob Lavett for a story about Helena’s new high school, which is set to open in 2013. During that interview, Lavett told me the school had basically reached its space limit, as more and more students have flooded into PHS during the county’s growth over the past decade.

A few weeks later, I spoke to a journalism class at the school, and got a firsthand look at the crowds in the hall.

When the bells rang, it was literally shoulder-to-shoulder in almost every hallway in the school, as I’m sure any PHS student can tell you. I am happy to see so much progress made in such a short amount of time on the new additions, which will give the school a little breathing room until HHS opens.

Several months ago, some said they considered the new PHS additions to be a waste of money, as the school’s enrollment will basically be cut in half when the Helena school opens.

It may seem that way in the short term, but adding on to PHS will benefit the school in the long run.

My first year at PHS was the first year Oak Mountain High School was open. Because OMHS also nearly halved the PHS enrollment that year, we had a little breathing room during my high school tenure.

But now, PHS is even bigger than it was before it split with Oak Mountain, and Shelby County’s population growth is showing no signs of slowing down.

I think Pelham’s expansion can only help us out in the future.

Neal Wagner is the city editor for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 17 or by email at neal.wagner@shelbycountyreporter.com.