Ram Pride is front and center at the brand new Newton High School. At the entrance to the new school, there is a board with a platform that lists all of the school’s sports and athletics programs.
But the feature that has the community most excited is the new gymnasium.
"The gym is more widespread. It already feels like home," said Rams Basketball Coach Rick Rasmussen.
"The main thing is they (facilities) are nicer," Newton Assistant Principal Tracey Curtis said.
"This gym seats 2,500 people, and the old gym sat 1,500 people. … I’m almost of a mind to call it Rams Arena because it’s so big. There’s our trophy case at the entrance of the gym, and there’s also an area to honor the old Newton," Rasmussen said.
"We knew that it was a nice facility before seating was put in. It’s beautiful, (with a) nice big scoreboard. Everybody’s happy, and the community will be happy," Curtis said.
New in blue
The new gym allows NHS athletes and students to revel in school pride.
"It’s big, and I love the way the bleachers are royal blue with white NHS writing on them. There’s a bright lighting ceiling, and we now have a center court scoreboard," Rasmussen said.
Another difference is that the concession stands are now outside the gym, right at the entrance. At the old NHS, concession stands were inside the gym.
Though it’s still months away, Rasmussen is very excited about the first game of basketball season.
"I’m hoping for a great crowd,’’ he said. " The first game is currently scheduled for us to play against Alcovy. I anticipate a large crowd to come out and see what both teams look like and for many of them to come see the new facilities for the first time. I believe it will be an exciting night."
"There will be a lot of electricity, just excitement. Several kids on the team will be able to say they played in the first game on this gym floor, which is very special," Curtis said.
Rasmussen says that the things that make this gym stand out among high school gym in the county are its size, the scoreboard, and the tradition of basketball at NHS.
As it looks to the future, the Newton athletics program also will remember the school’s rich traditions.
"We honor our past. We honor the old Newton County Comprehensive High School, (up) to where we are now," Rasmussen said. "We now also have the auxiliary gym, which we will share with the wrestling team. But when they’re done in there, we can go in there for practice or for a B Team or C Team game.
"In the past, we had to go to the gym at Porterdale Elementary,’’ Rasmussen said.
"It’s just a beautiful facility, and it’s special because it’s something we’ve never had before. No coach who currently coaches here has ever coached in facilities like this," Curtis said.
Newton now also has separate fields for its softball and baseball teams.
"We loved our old baseball facility. We thought it was one of the best in the county, because you could stand on top of the hill and see the whole field. But we are very appreciative of our new field," Curtis said.
The Newton tennis team also has a new court to practice and play on. The base court is now blue, to display more Ram Pride.
One of the big topics within the community has been whether a football stadium will be built at the new campus.
"I don’t think so, not in the immediate future and it really doesn’t make sense to, " Curtis said. "There are only three high schools in the county, and it doesn’t make sense for each high school to have a stadium on their school’s campus," Curtis said
Newton will continue to play its home football games at Sharp Stadium.
Although the Newton staff is very excited about the new facilities, that doesn’t mean coaches, teachers and students won’t miss the old NHS.
"I do miss it. There were lots of great teams, games, memories there. But there were some things in the old facilities that weren’t working properly, and it was just time for the move. It’s been a long time coming, and although it is new, our main priority is to continue to carry on our tradition," Rasmussen said.
"I will probably miss the baseball field, but overall, I have my memories. We have our memories, and we were proud of the old facilities, because of how we maintained them. But this place is beautiful, and we’re very excited about it," Curtis said.