Public gets tour of Halifax County High School

County leaders discussing whether to renovate school or build new school

HALIFAX COUNTY, Va. – About two dozen people took the first tour of Halifax County High School offered to the general public.

"I originally was for renovation but after doing the walkthrough, it would benefit, the extra $20 million, to rebuild," said Jennifer Epps, a parent of a child who will attend the high school next year.

Epps said she wishes more people would have taken the tour.

"This is our future. This is for years and years and decades to come, so it's very important to have education in place, for (kids) to have good education in a building where they can feel safe and a building where they can feel healthy," Epps said.

The school was built in 1979 and currently has $31 million in maintenance needs.

County leaders are trying to decide whether to spend about $88 million to renovate the school or about $100 million to build a new school.

Epps said her biggest concern is safety.

The current high school has 55 places where someone can get into the building from outside.

"I don't want, like they say, someone can just walk in; 55 points of access," Epps said.

The tour included stops in the band room, where the instrument storage room frequently floods, and stops in the boys and girls locker rooms, which were described as "dungeon-esque".

High school senior Camryn Pointer hopes the tour helps open the community's eyes.

"I feel confident that they understood what we saw and what we go home and tell them, and that they understand that we need something done," Pointer said.

She is in favor of building a new high school.

"I think everything needs to just be done away with and they just need a clean slate," Pointer said.

Principal Michael Lewis was pleased with tour's turnout.

"I was encouraged by the questions (people asked). I felt they were good and they were well thought out," Lewis said.

He anticipates holding more public events in the near future.

"Any time we can spread the word about what are needs are here, we're going to do that more and more as we reach out to, maybe, fire stations, go out to our elementary schools and develop power points and videos that further demonstrate some of the deficiencies here," Lewis explained.

On Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m., conceptual designs for a renovated and a brand new school will be presented.