By SHELLY WILKISON
Two years ago, school district officials and the Liberty Hill community met on pasture land that for generations had raised crops and livestock, and spoke of a day when a new high school would be built there.
On Sunday, many of the same people gathered in a new auditorium about 200 yards away from where a groundbreaking ceremony took place in September 2011. They dedicated a new high school to a community that has placed a high value on educating its young people.
During a dedication of the new Liberty Hill High School, Superintendent Rob Hart told the story of how a community came together to prepare for growth.
Hart was hired in 2008 and was challenged by the school board at that time to help grow school district facilities at a pace that could keep up with growing student enrollments.
“That was 550 students ago,” Hart said.
In 2009, the Board appointed a committee of community members to study current facilities and enrollment trends and recommend a plan of action. That plan became an $86 million bond package that was approved by voters in November 2010. It included a new high school and athletic complex, as well as expansion and renovations at all other campuses. In 2014, the former Intermediate School campus will be renovated to become the home of the central administration offices.
School Board President Clay Cole reflected on his experience as a student in Liberty Hill schools in the 1970s.
“We had one school, and things were tight and cozy,” he said. As a second grader in 1977, Cole attended Liberty Hill’s one school for all grades — the campus of the former Intermediate School. His class moved into the new elementary school in 1979, and seven years later, he was a student in a new high school (now the Intermediate School campus).
Cole said the high school’s motto, “Just can’t hide that Panther Pride”, is especially fitting for its new facility.
A school built of stone, glass and steel that Principal Bobby Mabry noted is especially beautiful in the early morning hours.
“It’s very pleasing to come to this building every day, where the sunrise reflects off the beautiful stone, steel and glass,” he said.
“But a building is just a building. Adding staff and students makes it a school,” Mabry said, recognizing the many high school faculty members in attendance Sunday.
Although few students were present for the dedication, a video depicting student life on the new campus was presented. The 13-minute video, which was put together by students in a video technology class, incorporated scenes from athletics, band, various clubs and organizations, as well as daily classroom activities.
Following the dedication, visitors toured the new facility at their own leisure.
Among the many who attended the event Sunday were Suzy Bates and her sister, Louise Marcom. The two sisters sold the 96 acres for the new campus to the school district. The land had been in their mother’s family for about 100 years, and as children, Ms. Bates and Mrs. Marcom spent summers there with their grandparents.
Sunday’s event was their first opportunity to see inside the new facility, and both were very pleased.