Gulfport alumni say goodbye to old high school today - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport alumni say goodbye to old high school today

The first building at Gulfport High School was torn down this morning.  (Photo source: WLOX) The first building at Gulfport High School was torn down this morning. (Photo source: WLOX)

Gulfport alumni are expected on the high school grounds this morning to see their old school one final time. 

Reality hit Friday for several teachers as they watched a part of Gulfport High history come tumbling to the ground. The demolition of the first of eight buildings started Friday morning to make way for a new high school. It was a bittersweet moment for one Gulfport teacher.

One push from the track hoe and a piece of the old gym came crashing down. Every brick that fell and each crunch of the metal pulled at Pam Gunkel's heart.

"Oh my goodness," Gunkel shouted as she saw a wall come down. "It's exciting, but it's sometimes hard to watch."

Gunkel graduated from Gulfport High in 1983.

"Many a pep rallies in that gym," she recalled.

Gunkel's family roots run deep at the school. Her oldest sister was part of the first graduating class in 1967, when the school was known as Gulfport East High. All four of her siblings and her three children graduated from the school. Gunkel has been a teacher at Gulfport High for nine years.

"This is the front of the school, where we call it the semicircle," Gunkel said as she pointed to an old picture.

That iconic entrance to the campus was torn down last week. The demolition will pave the way for a new $39 million high school that will go up on the same property.

"Memories that have been made in those halls, including myself. It's kind of sad, but kind of exciting to know we're going to move into the 21st century. It kind of takes your breath away. We've seen it on paper for so long, and it's been exciting to see the new building," said Gunkel.

Fellow teacher Dave Huffman had a very different view of the demolition.

"This is actually very exciting for me, because I'll be the recipient of one of the new facilities. I'm getting a whole new classroom and lab and all new equipment, and everything will go over there, and I'll finally have air conditioning," said Huffman.

The new school will also have the latest technology, a larger fine arts facility and one-of-a-kind Academic Institutes. But first, seven more buildings on the campus will have to come down, including part of the Vocational Complex and the math and science building.

"The memories and the spirit of this school will live on. You can't take that away. They can't tear down our memories," said Gunkel.

The project will be done in phases, so as buildings are demolished, construction will follow. The entire school is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2017.

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