A view of the cafeteria at Union High School. Photo by Stephen Igo.
WISE COUNTY — Off-the-scale school pride riding a tsunami of joy and excitement pumps through the halls of two brand new Wise County high schools.
An unusual mid-school year grand opening of the new Union High School in Big Stone Gap and Central High School in Wise came off without a hitch on Thursday as the two student bodies and two sets of staffs settled into their state-of-the-art facilities and wholly new academic surroundings.
“This is a new beginning,” said Central Assistant Principal David Stanley. “It’s a new source of pride for our students, our faculty and staff, our communities. Just everybody.”
“I tell you it’s gone well,” chimed in Central Principal Charles Collins. “These kids are excited and just busting with pride for this building. Same with staff. It just gives us a whole different outlook. Everybody’s getting settled in. The kids are just like, just excited about coming to school. It’s just sort of like Christmas time for all of us, I think.”
Union Principal Dan Roop said he was braced for some first day jitters when the school welcomed students for the first time on Thursday.
“I tell you, (Thursday) morning I thought we’d have all kinds of issues like kids having trouble finding their lockers or can’t find their classrooms and just getting adjusted to lunch schedules and our other procedures and all that,” he said.
“But when that first tardy bell of the day rang we didn’t have 10 kids still out in the hallways. Things just went as normal as ever after a Christmas break — and this wasn’t your usual return to school after Christmas break kind of thing, for sure.”For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.