ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Bringing schools to Orange Beach has been decades in the making.
Wednesday was the first day for students at Orange Beach Middle-High School, which opened off Canal Road in Orange Beach. The nearly 400 students who attend the school once had to drive or be driven to Gulf Shores for schooling, before the municipality split from Baldwin County Public Schools.
The school opening allows students who live in Orange Beach to go to school in Orange Beach. Last year, the students attended school in Orange Beach but in portables.
Orange Beach High School Principal Erika McCoy said it was a smooth first day.
“Traffic flow this morning was excellent,” McCoy said. “Our students were on time, and our teachers are teaching, so it’s been a good day.”
Opening a brand new school can be challenging itself, but add a pandemic to the mix, and it could be a disaster. However, McCoy said the pandemic has caused few obstacles along the way.
“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise because we were planning everything from scratch anyway, so we’ve been able to work COVID-19 plans into our plans as we open a brand new building,” she said. “It’s actually much more sanitary to bring students into a building like this that’s never been lived in.”
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon was beaming with pride Wednesday morning outside of the school’s bell tower.
“It’s been a long time coming, No. 1. We’ve been trying for 20 years to get our own schools,” Kennon said. “But, it really completes our community.”
Kennon said when students had to go to school in Gulf Shores, it created a disconnect between students, parents and their own community.
With the new school, Kennon said Orange Beach has become a place where children can grow up and settle their own families.
“We know that Orange Beach High School, Orange Beach Middle School and elementary school will bring about a greater attachment about our community,” he said. “(There will be) an outpouring of support with it being here in town.”
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