By KAREN CIMINO WILSON
Hundreds of future William A. Hough High School students, their parents and siblings crowded in front of the new $57.6 million high school Saturday, excited to tour the modern campus for the first time.
Students marched to the celebration behind the newly formed Hough High Marching Husky Band, from nearby Bailey Middle School, where many incoming freshmen attended last year. The day included a festival in the school’s new football stadium. Hough’s Parent Teacher Student Association organized and paid for the event through donations and corporate sponsorship.
Hough High School, home of the Huskies, will open Aug. 25 with a mix of sophomores and juniors from North Mecklenburg and Hopewell high schools, freshman from Bailey and other area middle schools and no seniors. Already, students have started working together to build new traditions and programs.
Hough’s Army ROTC program is one example. North Mecklenburg High has an Air Force ROTC. Hopewell has Army ROTC. Both were-award winning programs, say students who came together for Hough’s first meeting last week and are excited to build a new program there.
Jesse Kocsis, a rising junior from North Mecklenburg, and four former Hopewell High students - Brandon Simpson, Sean Sabol, John Williams, and Chris Anastasi – attended Saturday’s grand opening in full ROTC uniforms, answering questions about the program for students and parents who wandered into their classroom.
“I love it,” said Brandon, a rising sophomore. “It’s like a mini-college. It’s just so high tech. You can definitely tell the ROTC program is going to be really good.”
Jesse said the change would be an adjustment for him because he had been in the Air Force ROTC at North Meck, but he’s looking forward to building a strong program with his new classmates.
Sean said students are excited about being in a new school.
“I think it’s a lot nicer than Hopewell,” he said.
Then Jessie said, “North is like 60 years old.”
“I think this school is going to be the best in CMS,” Sean added.
Outside the ROTC classroom, students and parents inspected lockers that lined the extra-wide hallways of the 258,000-square-foot school. They peeked through windows at the science classrooms. Some students chatted in the new gymnasium atop a shiny new basketball court marked with the Huskies name and mascot. The only thing miss – scuff marks from an intense game.
Nearby, others checked out the lunchroom and the auditorium. Upstairs, others inspected the library and its dozens of computers and laptops.
Outside, parents and students passed by a few of the 15 rain gardens, a unique feature at the school designed to naturally filter storm water run off, and then drain back into the creek that runs along the back of the property.
At the entrance to the football field, Hough cheerleaders Aryssa Ciuffo and Courtney Wood, both former North Meck students, tried to raise money for the school’s Booster Club, selling temporary Hough tattoos and Huskies car magnets.
“I’m excited,” Courtney, a sophomore, said of her new school.
“I think it’s going to be good because it gives us a chance to meet new people,” Aryssa said.
Hough’s first principal is Teresa Cockerham, a graduate of Olympic High School in Charlotte and Wake Forest University. Cockerham has a doctoral degree from UNC Charlotte.
“We can’t wait to get the student in the building,” she said Saturday. “That’s what this is all been about. That will be the neatest day. There is excitement. You can feel it.”
Dr. William Hough, the son of the late William A. Hough the school is named for, also attended Saturday’s grand opening. Dr. Hough said his father, a former North Mecklenburg High principal, never would have imagined that his years as an educator would have been memorialized.
“It’s just been overwhelming,” Dr. Hough said. “It’s just meant the world to me and my sister. My father was the kind of person who never in his wildest dreams would have ever thought something like this would happen in his memory.”
See past coverage of Hough High on DavidsonNews.net, under the Hough High tag.
Who was W.A. Hough? See our Nov. 11, 2009 story, “It’s official: School on Bailey Road is Hough High”
Hough High gallery
Photos by Bill Giduz and Karen Wilson. Click any image to launch the slideshow.