Tallahassee’s southside expecting new high school

By KeyAaron Dishman
Outlook Writer

As early as 2018, there will be a new high school built in Tallahassee. Earlier this year, the Leon County School Board approved a plan to build a new high school.

This plan, which has been worked on and developed for about 10 years, was constantly kept on the boards agenda.

The visionary behind the new high school is School Board District 3 member Maggie Lewis-Butler.

“I wanted education equity for the Southside and surrounding areas,” Lewis-Butler began. I noticed and had a strong belief that the equipment and facilities were not up to par with schools in other areas. I felt that we needed a new high school and with a new high school comes new resources.”

The plan, which also includes renovations to many other schools across Tallahassee, will have James S. Rickards High School, which was established in 1960, be converted into a middle school after the new high school is built.

Rickards current Athletic Director, Earl Hankerson, believes the changes can be good for the community in the long run.

“I really just hope it changes the perception of the Southside,” Hankerson commented. “It’ll offer newer resources, which is great for education and will attract more students to the area, I just hope all the kids will be able to benefit from this.”

After hearing about the upcoming changes, the plan brought up more than a few emotions from Alumni.

Jasmine Thomas, former cheerleader and current cheerleading coach, has come from a long line of Raiders/Redskins. Both of her parents are former graduates, Class of 1984. Her mom was a cheerleader and her dad a basketball player.

Thomas graduated in 2012 and watched her younger brother graduate two years later in 2014 with other siblings and relatives who attended.

“I don’t like that they’re closing Rickards.” Thomas said passionately. “I don’t understand why they’re doing it and we have such a rich history in Tallahassee. Everything that we’ve worked for will be gone. Why Rickards?”

Markeith Cromartie, a former wrestler from the Class of 2013, is in a similar situation. He is also part of a family that has more than a couple Rickards graduates.
“The new high school being built has given me mixed feelings,” Cromartie said. “I have (a) soft spot for Rickards because I graduated from there.”

Cromartie concluded, “Those were some of the best years of my life and some of the lessons I learned there helped prepare me for life after high school, but the new high school can open up new opportunities for a new generation of students and I am all for that.”

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