The new Windermere High School had an open house tonight. As long as we stay put, this will be Simon's school eight years from now. It is desperately needed, because before being named, it was known as "West Orange Relief High School." West Orange has something like 4,000 kids.
(Sidebar: Interestingly, no one who actually lives in Windermere will go to this school. However, a lot of people who live in the zip code but not the municipality think they live there because people don't have any idea what "unincorporated Orange County" is. I don't know how they manage to vote or pay taxes. Sorry, but if Shaq isn't your neighbor, you don't live in Windermere.)
This new school is gigantic, though something like a fourth of it won't be used this year because kids who are seniors will mostly remain at West Orange. My high school was a typical cinder block thing built in stages from the late 60's to early 80's, but it had a vague warmth to it, I suppose because of the paint colors and some 70's green and 80's blue carpet in places. This building, on the inside, is strikingly utilitarian and cold. I might even call it depressing. No joke, they have stainless steel tables in the cafeteria that look straight out of a prison catalog.
I hate giant schools. I had 500 in my graduating class, and that was too big in some ways. The problem with big schools, and they're all big down here because they don't coincide with small municipalities and districts the way they do in Ohio, is that fewer kids get to have some of the opportunities. When I coached JO volleyball, my kids often came from a dozen different schools all on the far west side of Cleveland. There are only 20 high schools in OC total, and the county is massive. Cuyahoga County alone has more than 80 schools, and with the surrounding counties and Akron you likely double that. More kids play sports, get to be in band, show choir, clubs, etc.
I'm not suggesting that kids here don't get a solid education. They're all rated fairly well in the places where average incomes are high. I just think that high school is already a difficult time for people, so it would be nice if they were able to do more stuff.
The newest elementary school will probably not be built before Simon is done, but his was new last year, so that's OK. My hope is that the middle school is finished before he gets there in four years, because the one in our zone is also insanely overcrowded.
Interestingly, the schools here in Florida don't have to wait to pass a bond issue to build, as they do in the broken system in Ohio. They're still required to build to the eventual leveled off capacity, however, so most open with trailers. This high school took longer to start because of politics and fights with the county zoning board being pressured by assholes who really believe they live in a "rural" neighborhood. As it is, they won the fight to put the football stadium down the street, which is lame.
So here's to the Windermere Wolverines. Please make our kids read good and stuff.