Work begins on new fine arts building at OMHS

Published 10:25 am Monday, May 9, 2022

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NORTH SHELBY – Construction of a new fine arts building at Oak Mountain High School began this month.

Shelby County Schools officials joined Oak Mountain High School faculty and students on Wednesday, May 4 at a groundbreaking ceremony for the building, which will provide more space for the school’s band and choir programs.

“They’ve given us approximately an 18-month building timeframe, so we’re hoping to move in around Thanksgiving of 2023,” OMHS Associate Director of Bands Travis Bender said. “It’s roughly 30 percent bigger than we have right now, and much-needed. We’ve got about a third of the school currently involved in music, so 575 kids either take band or choir here. This will help us tremendously.”

The $7.6 million project is the first expansion of the OMHS campus since 2005, Bender said, and will allow the marching band to rehearse all together indoors when necessary.

“Having a room where we can fit the entire ensemble will be very nice,” he said in a previous interview. “We’re literally busting at the seams in our current facility. It’s a great thing for our school.”

The project is included on a list of capital improvement projects the Shelby County School District plans to complete over the next several years with revenue generated from refinancing existing debt at a lower interest rate and a state bond issue.

“We are so excited about this project,” OMHS Principal Andrew Gunn said. “We are so grateful to our board and superintendent for their support on this project. It serves so many students in our community, and it’s just going to build on this great tradition we have at Oak Mountain High School.”

The new band room will be called the Jim Duren Band Room, named after the school’s first band director who passed away from COVID-19 complications in 2020.

In addition to the new building, the project will also involve renovating and converting the current band and choir room into additional athletic facilities.

“We’re very excited for the Oak Mountain community and of course this great choral and band program,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks said. “We have outstanding teachers in these programs. We’re excited about what’s ahead for the Oak Mountain fine arts program.”