HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A school with a long history is ready for a change in location.
Grissom High School on Bailey Cove Road has history that dates back to 1969, but Tuesday morning, city, county, and Huntsville City Schools officials turned over some dirt at the future site of the school on National Boulevard.
"Today begins one of the msot exciting new adventures for the Grissom High School community," said Grissom Principal June Kalange. "We're going to have a building that matches our reputation for strong tradition and academic excellence."
Beyond the Sam's Club on National is a site covered with bulldozers -- and a sign depicting its future. The current Grissom High has more students than any other Huntsville high school, but sits on the smallest property.
"Many of our best programs are hidden in places where they're not that accessible to the public," said Principal Kalange.
"The current facility has been adapted to the programs, this new facility will be created for the programs," said Jennie Robinson of the Huntsville City Board of Education.
The new site design gives Grissom's many nationally recognized programs room to grow.
"It'll connect the dots for kids with regard for the general education and science, engineering, STEM and all that," said Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski.
The new property is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2016 -- right in the middle of the 2016-2017 school year.
"If that all pans out, we'd be in shape to move the students for second semester," said Superintendent Wardynski. School district officials say they will not move the students, however, if it will negatively impact students' academics.
A Historic School to Remain Part of the Community
"One of the great concerns the community had, in addition to where the new Grissom would go was what would happen to the site," said Robinson.
With property calues in mind, city and county officials have worked a plan.
"[County Commissioner] Phil Riddick is planning a library there and that's something that south Huntsville has needed for so very long," said Principal Kalange.
"That building had been added on to, strange design. A pod design to begin with, no windows," said Superintendent Wardynski of the current site.
The city will keep and repurpose the fields, gyms, and auditorium.
"We'll be able to knock down the rest, build a state-of-the-art library, and it will become a community complex," said Robinson.
Not only will the site serve as recreational, but it will also be a public safety haven.
"The newer portion will be retained for police," said Superintendent Wardynski. "There's a precinct across the street that will move into that."
So as the graduating class of 2021 moves into their new home on National Boulevard in 2017, the community will find the old Grissom as a new public facility.