THS Starts Multi-Purpose Building Construction

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Work will begin soon on a unique project that will help protect students and teachers, and offer space for a variety of sporting events and other activities.

It is the first groundbreaking on the Tupelo High School campus in 25 years. A storm shelter designed to withstand an EF 5 tornado with 250 mile per hour winds.

“Our first priority is to make sure the kids are safe everyday, Tupelo High School has right around 2 thousand students, our current gym, which is not a storm shelter, holds around 15 hundred,” said Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton.

The building will also serve as a gymnasium and athletic facility with seats for more than 2,000 people, along with a weight room and running track.

The 24,000 square foot facility will be the largest of its kind in the state and nearly half of the six million dollar price tag is paid for by FEMA and MEMA grants. Also, officials point out it’s much more than a gym and storm shelter.

“If you want to have music fest, or music showcase or band wants to have a special event where they have a competition, you have our PAC, have middle school and facility here so we will have the ability to have up to three facilities where you have music productions going on if you have a weekend event with bands, or choirs coming in from all across the state,” said TPSD Superintendent Dr. Gearl Loden.

Students say they’re glad to see work starting on the building, only a few years after the 2014 tornado.

“I feel it’s important to have something like this so we won’t be, nervous, everybody won’t be trying to go home when a tornado comes, we can be safe in the shelter , all together, won’t have any issues like that,” said THS Senior Tishira Atkins.

“Instead of running home, like something bad is going on with weather, we can come together as a school and it’s big enough,” said THS Senior LaDevin Allen.

Construction should take about a year.

Costs not covered by the federal grants will be covered by money saved on TPSD bond projects.

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