GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Six additional buildings are coming down in June to make way for the new Gulfport High School. One building in particular is evoking bittersweet emotions.
On Friday, a backhoe clawed away at the metal roof, then, punched a brick wall. With every blow, 49 years of Gulfport High history came tumbling down.
"It's nostalgic for me, really, because this is considered the old gym," said Gulfport High Athletic Director Bryan Caldwell.
Caldwell bounced his first basketball in the old gym; once home to the Gulfport East Vikings. He proudly showed off the schedule of the first year Gulfport East played basketball. After Gulfport East and Gulfport High consolidated in 1978, the gym turned into a physical education facility.
"It's a little sad, because that gym does hold a lot of great memories for many people. There are a lot of men in town that played ball at Gulfport East and still consider that to be their gym," said Caldwell.
Recent Gulfport High graduate Obadiah Montgomery has a very unique view of the demolition. She spent a lot of time practicing her basketball skills in the gym.
"It's pretty exciting, but sometimes it's sad. So many great memories here, working hard in these old gyms, training rooms. But now, the students, the future athletes, they'll have a better one," said Montgomery.
Montgomery is now a part time project assistant with the Roy Anderson Corporation, the construction manager for the new school.
"It's a wonderful feeling. I always tell my friends, 'Hey I was here to see the school go down,'" Montgomery added.
The 15,000 square-foot-old building is the largest of six structures that will be torn down during the summer.
"Progress is being made here and we're in the midst of building what's going to be the finest high school in Mississippi. This is a necessary step along the way," said Caldwell.
In the summer of 2017, three more buildings will be torn down: The Main Academic Building, the North Vo-Tech Building and the 150s Classrooms. All the additions and renovations at Gulfport High should be finished by August of 2017.