Changes ahead for hundreds of Harrison Co. students

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Despite 70-plus days of rain delays since construction started in June of 2007, workers are making good progress on the new West Harrison High School.

"We're on schedule. Complete June 15th," said project manager Jim Whitacre.

Workers are finishing the flooring, testing the AC system, and touching up the paint job.

"We're going to start putting down seed and sod, probably starting tomorrow, and we're working on asphalt now," said Whitacre.

The 155,000 square foot building features an impressive gymnasium, home of the future West Harrison High Hurricanes.

"It's going to be a beautiful new school," said Russell Clark.

Clark is the principal of Harrison Central High School, whose student body will be splitting up next year.  He says about 40-percent of his students will be going to West Harrison when it opens in August. And there is another change. Both high schools will be taking in ninth graders as well. Clark said the moves will help ease overcrowding at Harrison Central.

"We had somewhere around 1,850 students here, which is a very large number at one complex," Clark said.  "This move that we're making, having the new school built, is going to bring those numbers down. We'll be much better off.  Everybody will be able to get a much better education."

The attendance zones have been carved out and the students should know by now where they'll be going to school.  The only difference is the district is giving next year's seniors a choice:  They can choose to either stay at Harrison Central and graduate, or they can go to the new school and be the first class to graduate there.

"There are a lot of them that are going to stay here and they're excited about that," said Clark.  "And those that are going over there, they're excited about that. So it's a win-win situation all the way around."

The superintendent does not know yet what will become of Harrison Central 9th Grade School, once the students move out.

West Harrison will be the second newly-built high school to open in the Harrison County School District this year.  Back in February, the new D'Iberville High School opened its doors.

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