District officials say new Athens High School is worth the wait

ATHENS, Ala - Athens City Schools district officials planned to have the new high school ready on the first day of class this fall, but last week they announced students will have to take classes at the old middle school for the first 56 days of school.

That leaves many people wondering ....Is the new high school going to be worth the wait? WHNT News 19 took a tour of the facility with several students and teachers.

The roughly $60 million facility is state-of-the-art, and district officials say it's unlike any other high school campus in North Alabama.

Students will walk into an entryway two stories tall with high windows, that allow the natural light to pour in.

"It's a top-of-the-line facility. It's master craftsmanship," principal Travis Schrimsher said.

A ninth grade science teacher saw his classroom for the first time. He clapped with glee.

"When I'm in that room I was imagining my students sitting in the classroom and how thrilled they're going to be," Justin Smith said.

He toured the facility with his son, Isaac who is going to be a senior this year. The student was very impressed with the fact the indoor and outdoor windows have been installed in every classroom.

"I just thought it was amazing you know everything looked so new. It's so open," the teen said.

They face the school's one-acre interior courtyard.

"There's other schools that have interior courtyards, but nothing that's an acre, that's an entire acre, of course, that's concrete-scaped and landscaped," Schrimsher said.

The school was built with safety in mind. The courtyard is only accessible from inside the building, and it has a tornado safe area.

"It holds about 2,200 people and it can withstand the impact of an F-5 tornado, 256 mile an hour wind," Schrimsher said.

The school comes complete with a massive gym, a huge theatre for performing arts, a beautiful cafeteria and flex spaces so the school can accommodate more students in the future.

There is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

Schrimsher led the tour. He hopes a view of the facility can answer one very important question for the community.

"Some people may have thought you know is it worth the wait? I think after you go through the resounding answer is absolutely."

The first day of classes at the new school will be held November 19th and a community open house is scheduled for December.