Oh, my hackles are up! I understand that folks all over the country have been making fun of my town, and our new high school football stadium.
Yes, it’s big and fancy.
Yes, it cost 60 million dollars.
Hell, no, I have no problem with it.
My guess is that if you haven’t been in Allen, TX you hear $60 million dollar high school football stadium, and you roll your eyes assuming that money that could (and should) have been spent on improving schools was sacrificed at the alter of football worship. I probably would have felt the same way if I didn’t live here.
I’d like to set the record straight, because I think that if more school districts could do what we did here in Allen, kids everywhere could benefit.
Let me say right off the bat that I recognize that my town is better off financially than most. Obviously that makes a huge difference in the money that goes into its public school system. That said, I think how our district handled the need for a new stadium was great.
You might have noticed that my title says $78 million, and the stadium cost $60 million. What happened to that other $18 million?….
Before they even broke ground on our fancy, shmancy stadium, the school built a gorgeous new wing onto the high school holding a Performing Arts Center, Art gallery, restaurant (for the kids wanting cooking and hospitality experience before going on to college), a TV studio (for kids interested in communications experience before college), new classrooms for all performing arts and visual arts students, and new classrooms, and labs for students learning what it takes to get into health-care professions.
In short, they did it right. Unlike so many schools that are cutting music and art budgets to the bone, Allen is investing in making sure the Arts are alive and well. It’s impressive, and as a parent who’s children are NOT sports minded kids (both are in the band program), I appreciate that my kids have amazing facilities to learn and perform music.
So what about the stadium? Well, on Friday nights in the fall the whole town gets excited and goes to watch the games. The band, color guard and drill team (with over 800 members total) perform. Oh yes, then there are the high school students who do all of the camera work for the game, and edit the graphics on the scoreboard, and learn how to sportscast in the booth. In my mind, football is just the event that provides a springboard for opportunities for so many other kids to get some real world experience while they are still in high school.
So yes, I love my new stadium, but I love the foresight of the people who planned ahead for our school district even more. I wish that all kids had the kind of opportunities mine do. Arts, sciences, technology, service careers, and sports too…..they are all fully supported by the school, and that is how it should be.