With the chants of cheerleaders — and the sound of a small thunderstorm — echoing in the background, Moore opened the state’s newest 6A high school Thursday — the $44 million-plus Southmoore High School.

In a ceremony attended by city, county and state officials, Moore superintendent Deborah Arato praised the city’s school board, city councilmembers and dozens of others for their assistance in opening the 300,000-square-foot high school.

The school’s grand opening ceremony was held in conjunction with a ceremony marking the completion of work on Santa Fe Avenue.

“I cannot say enough about the intense pride of our partnerships,” Arato said. “On the city side, we have a whole group of extremely dedicated and caring people.”

Funded by a $30 million school bond issue and about $14 million in funds from the Oklahoma City MAPS for Kids one cent sales tax, the school is expected to open with 1,700 students and about 120 faculty and staff members, Arato said.

“But it was designed to hold about 2,400 students,” she said.

Speaking during the ceremony, Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said “there was no way in the world” he would have missed the grand opening ceremony.

“There are very few days in the opportunity of a mayor that you get to open a 6A school in your city,” he said. “Especially something so fabulous as this. It’s incredible.”

While some portions of the school are still under construction, Arato said the facility would open with all four wings ready for classes. “We’re hoping we will also be able to open our fine arts wing, too,” she said. “But we’re waiting to hear from the fire marshal on that.”

Southmoore principal Roy Smith said he was ready for the school’s opening day.

“It’s just beautiful,” he said. “I love the spaciousness of the building and the school colors. It’s just beautiful.”

Opening Southmoore, Smith said, will give students, faculty and school administrators a chance to develop new traditions in the district.

“We will depend on our faculty and our students. We’re going to listen to them and let them have a lot of input into the shaping of this school.”

Smith said the first day of classes for Southmoore is set for Aug. 14.

“I’ve been in education for more than 30 years,” he said. “And every morning I get up and I’m ready to go to work.”

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