Students: Ooltewah High "stronger than ever" - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Students: Ooltewah High "stronger than ever"

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Hannah McGrath and Alicia Montgomery Hannah McGrath and Alicia Montgomery

The external report on Ooltewah High School brings closure in many ways, answering many questions as to what happened in Gatlinburg last December, and how school officials responded.  But for the students and staff at Ooltewah High, it reopens some old wounds, just as a new administrative team and coaching staff hopes to give the school a fresh start.

Senior Hannah McGrath said, "Our school has an excellent environment. We have great veteran teachers, and some great new ones. We all know it's a good school."

It is like a cloud has been lifted. During the second half of last school year, the school was on the defensive.  Day after day, there were new allegations and revelations about the ill-fated basketball trip to Gatlinburg, and its aftermath.

Senior Alicia Montgomery said, "I remember I'd go to a random place, tell people I went to Ooltewah, and they expressed sympathy. They didn't know how great a school it was."

Hamilton County school officials say the independent report revealed some problem areas, but also confirmed that most Ooltewah staffers and students feel the school does a good job creating a safe atmosphere.

District 9 Board member Steve Highlander said, "Just like you and me, most of the students were appalled by what happened last year."

New principal Robin Copp has put two new coaches, Jay Williams and Theanthony Haymon, in charge of the boys basketball team.  After cancelling the second half of last season, it's a program in need of new blood. She said, "I think the biggest thing we looked for when we began the coaching search was creating young men of character, and along the way, hopefully winning some games." 

The mood is much lighter in the "Owl's Nest," and students say they're ready to share their pride in Ooltewah High. "What we've been through has made us stronger in the long run," Alicia Montgomery said.


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