EHS 'Meet the Cyclones' and pool renovation reveal community spirit
By Julie Fann

There's something about the beginning of a new school year.
   Not only kids, but parents, teachers and coaches all face the world with an attitude of hope for a future that is still, for a final moment, only a dream.
   Such was the case last Tuesday evening when members of the Elizabethton community gathered in the Elizabethton High School gymnasium to honor this year's EHS student athletes and to dedicate the renovation of the school's swimming pool.
   "This event would not be possible without the support of the parents of the student athletes...You cannot be part of the fighting Cyclone team without the support of your parents," Judy Blevins, Superintendent of Elizabethton City Schools, said at the beginning of the ceremony.
   Blevins introduced all principals in the Elizabethton City School system -- John Hutchins, Principal of Harold McCormick Elementary School; Randy Lacey, Principal of Eastside Elementary School; Rick Wilson, Principal of Westside Elementary School; Regina Cates, Principal of T.A. Dugger Junior High School; Ed Alexander, Principal of Elizabethton High School; Amber Honeycutt, Assistant EHS Principal; and Adeline Hyder, EHS Vocational Director.
   Members of the central office administrative team were also in attendance -- Rondald Taylor, Assistant Director of Schools; Carol Whaley, Federal Projects Director; and several city school board members.
   "As you know, this event is in conjunction with the renovation of our pool, and we have worked very closely with Johnson Controls to work on the pool and to bring it back up to the standards that we would like to have," Blevins said.
   Several employees from Johnson Controls, including Jeff Lyons, project manager, Brian Wilson and Mike Grubbs were thanked for their efforts, as well as the maintenance crew.
   EHS Athletic Director Larry Alderson also thanked parents for their support as the new school year begins. Mike Curtis, President of the Athletic Parent's Organization, requested parental involvement during the sports season.
   Alderson mentioned that the Athletic Parent's Organization has constructed a new apparel booth at the EHS football stadium which will allow fans to buy various EHS memorabilia.
   Student athletes for nearly all Elizabethton Cyclone fall athletic teams were introduced by their coaches, including girl's soccer and volleyball, and boy's varsity and junior varsity football. Members of the golf and cross country teams weren't in attendance due to competition.
   The Cyclone cheerleaders also received an introduction.
   "We're excited, obviously, and this is a big night. We coupled the open house with food and these five sports being introduced, and you can see this is the largest crowd we've had in years, so that sort of magnifies the excitement. There are approximately 100-150 more people," said Ed Alexander, EHS Principal.
   Mayor Sam LaPorte also attended the event. "I got an invitation, and I'm very supportive of the school system. I've got a daughter on the soccer team here," he said.
   Tommy Jenkins, who is beginning his third year as the EHS head football coach, said that he has goals for the EHS Cyclones this year.
   "Right now, our realistic goal is to win the conference championship. We lost it last year, and, prior to that, we won seven straight, so that's our immediate goal. I think the way our kids work, it's realistic," Jenkins said.
   Much needed renovations to the EHS swimming pool will now enable physical education instructor, Susie Johns, to teach swimming as part of her curriculum.
   "It looks really, really nice. We can make sure now that all of our students can swim when they leave this school," Johns said.
   Johns said that the older citizens in the community were probably the most instrumental in getting the pool in better shape. Many older residents use the swimming pool for water aerobics classes three times a week.
   Blevins said the pool project cost approximately $218,000 and was paid for using county capital funds.
   "When the county built Cloudland Elementary School, the city gets so much of the funding, and we received $1 million in capital funding. The board made the decision that we would renovate the pool," said Blevins.
   Pool renovations include a new fiberglass bottom, new lights, new floors and inlaid markers. Prisoners from the Carter County Work Camp painted the walls. The new facility now features updated dressing rooms which are handicapped accessible.
   Probably the most important addition to the pool, however, is a new de-humidification unit that maintains the temperature and humidity year-round.
   "Prior to that, we had a lot of humidity problems. We had not offered swimming in several years and now we can increase the curriculum and offer swimming to our students," Blevins said.
   Blevins said it took almost three months to complete the project, which began in April and was finished in June.