Recap: Recent High School Consolidation News

Published 10:00 am Friday, February 16, 2024

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With the Chambers County High School set to break ground on Feb. 23 and Tuesday’s announcement of the mascot and colors, the consolidation of the high schools is center stage in the community.

The groundbreaking will occur on Rams Stadium Drive off the Fairfax bypass at 10 a.m. CT/11 p.m. ET.

On Tuesday, the architect and planning team from the firm Cooper Carry presented the first renderings of the new high school, as well as the mascot, logo and colors. Dr. Casey Chambley, the CCSD Superintendent gave a speech on the consolidation.

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The projected opening date is the Fall of 2026, meaning the current Freshman students at Valley and LaFayette High School will be the first graduating class of the consolidated high school.

The school will be called Chambers County High School, and its mascot is the fighting falcons, inspired by champion boxer and LaFayette native, Joe Lewis. The falcon mascot will be named Joe and wear boxing gloves. The logo is a navy and sky blue falcon gripping a red ‘Falcons’ banner.

Some citizens on social media echoed Valley business owner, Allison Trimble’s issue with the color.

“My only problem is the colors of the school … Where is the black or gold for LaFayette?,” Trimble said after the presentation at Langdale Auditorium.

Others were concerned the colors were reminiscent of Valley High School, and the logo of Point University.

Overall, the initial reaction of those at the event was positive, with many commenting on the size and style of the rendered building.

At the end of his speech, Chambley promised that they would be able to borrow the necessary money to build the school without taxing citizens. This has been a concern for many citizens due to the high price tag of building a brand-new school.

“With us being in such a low debt ratio that when we do get the school, it doesn’t even bother our taxes… It’s a huge deal, that was one of my concerns but we never got the question answered,” said Natasha Dowell, parent of a Valley High student, at Tuesday’s presentation.

Cassandra Dozier, another parent, recalled growing up in Valley and how things have changed.

“Seeing the elementary school we had, to see what they are going to have now it’s amazing,” Dozier said.

The attendance at Tuesday’s reveal appeared to be predominantly Valley residents, with it being held at Langdale Auditorium in the city. However, VTN talked to some teachers from LaFayette.

“Forever a Bulldog, but it was nice,” Marquavian Billingsley, a 2020 LaFayette High graduate, said about the new mascot.

Frederick “Reco” Newton, who is running for District 1 school board president seat against incumbent Jeffrey Finch, still had lingering questions about the new school.

The teacher and Coach were concerned about the sporting facilities at the new high school, particularly the football facilities.

“I don’t see anything else on this video that will support the efforts that they have, as far as equipment for them and facilities for them. That you know, kind of justifies a new high school,” Newton said. 

The football field used for Chambers County High School will be the current Valley home field at Rams Stadium. A football fieldhouse and track and field area will come in later phases of the construction after the school is built, according to Chambley.

The school has two levels. The students will enter into a large common area which will house seating and a dining area, more informal than most school cafeterias. There will be a large “sitting staircase,” with deep stairs for students to socialize or study on. The stairs up to the second level and lead to the media center and library.

The floor plan is split into wings, with an academic wing, with classrooms and labs, and an athletic wing. The athletic wing houses two gyms, where basketball and other sports can practice and play simultaneously, weight rooms, locker rooms, and a common area.

A separate building will house some of the Career Tech programs.

In the middle of the school is a large patio and a practice field for the marching band and JROTC to use.