Ira Crook walked around the newly renovated Zephyrhills High School with wide eyes giving nods of approval of the $33 million massive makeover of the school he served proudly as its custodian for 35 years.
Crook remembers fondly carrying the furniture into the building when it was built in 1975. He waved good-bye to the school when he retired in 2010, but he had to see what his school looks like now.
“It’s beautiful,” Crook said. “It looks different from when I was here, but it looks better. It still has the character of the original school and look of a new school.”
Crook was one of more than 100 people who came out for the ZHS Open House and ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of the renovations that were nearly three years in the making.
“It is so beautiful,” said student Chelsey Peace. “I love this library. It’s the furniture, the books, the carpet and everything. It just looks classy. I’m so excited. It’s something we can all be proud of.”
The students’ reaction follows the same theme.
“It’s just gorgeous,” said sophomore Sharibel Vazquez. “They did a wonderful job. During the construction, it was a nightmare, but it was worth it.”
In a ceremony before the ribbon cutting, Pasco County School Board Member, Alan Altman told the crowd of dignitaries, students, staff and parents that the district’s aggressive capital improvement program brought roughly $46 million in new construction and renovations to ZHS.
He praised the Penny for Pasco sales tax initiative that covered $41.5 million of the costs that brought the Home of the Bulldogs to a new level.
“It has been an absolute lifesaver,” Altman said. “I will stand there and tell you today that without the Penny for Pasco, the projects you see at the older schools would not have happened. We would be remised as a school board and superintendent if we didn’t thank the citizens for their support.”
Zephyrhills Principal Dr. Christina Stanley acknowledged the efforts of former Principal Angie Stone who assisted in the planning of the massive renovations. Stanley brought the project across the finish line.
“The kids are excited about it,” Stanley said. “They want a world-class facility. This looks collegiate. It looks like a destination. For many, school is not a destination, it’s a chore. Having a facility like this and staff that cares about them and a city that supports them, it’s a big deal.”