MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
"We had one chance to get it right," said Tracy Sanders, Building Supervisor for the Enterprise city school system.
Once chance to get it right and boy did they ever. The new Enterprise High School is huge, the largest public high school in the southeast. It costs $86 million to build and it's made of heavy duty steel and concrete. Couple that with good old fashioned grit to rebound from the tornado that pretty much leveled the old school and killed 8 students a little more than 3 years ago.
It was Tracy Sanders who spent everyday on the construction site to make sure things went according to plan.
"A building this size could have easily taken 24 months but we got it done just under 18 months," said Sanders.
You get the feeling Sanders is behaving like a proud papa and why not? Sanders gave WSFA 12 News the grand tour; 12 feet wide hallways compared to 9 feet in the old school, reinforced steel in many parts of the building, specifically in what they call the two 'safe' rooms; the band room and the ROTC classroom.
In essence bunkers to protect students and teachers from another potential tornado.
"12 inch rebar in each cell and 6-inch slab on top," Sanders added.
The doors leading to the safe rooms are solid, built that way for a purpose.
"A 2 by 4 cannot penetrate the doors with a 200 mph wind," said Sanders.
We're told the new school is so well built it should in theory last 100 years and the safe rooms are guaranteed to withstand winds of 200 miles an hour.
Tracy Sanders is by far not the only one who worked hard to make the transition smooth to the new Enterprise High School.
Ron White is the school district's transportation director. Mapping out the bus routes to the Enterprise-Ozark Community College in Enterprise was no easy ride. This is where the high school students had to share buildings and space with the college students while the new school was being built.
"I've learned that people are resilient. There were long days for bus drivers and students, often working up to 6:30 at night," said White.
Those days are over now.
Normal routes have returned to the new high school and the new elementary school only a few miles away. White and drivers are just now beginning to relax.
"They will find themselves twiddling their thumbs," White said with a smile.
Ron White and Tracy Sanders, one man rode out the disruption over 3 years while another helped supervise a massive new school from the ground up, making a difference together.