October 24, 2011 FacebookTwitter More...

Ocracoke School dedicates the new gym 


The Ocracoke community celebrated a historic day on Oct. 20 when the Ocracoke School dedicated a brand new, regulation-sized gym for the Ocracoke Dolphins.

“This is a long-awaited event for the island and the school,” noted Dr. Randolph Latimore, Hyde County Schools superintendent, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the new facility built over the spring and summer. “This was a tremendous effort by so many people.”

The first game will be played Dec. 6 against Mattamuskeet High starting at 3 p.m. with the middle school team. The public is welcome to attend. Admission will be charged.

Latimore, along with School Board Chairman Thomas Whitaker and six other Ocracoke business people, held the hedge shears that officially cut the ribbon.

Whitaker, in his remarks, led the crowd in a “Go Dophins!” cheer.

He said the entire school board will attend the first game.

“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve witnessed in the history of Ocracoke School,” noted Daphne Bennink, whose daughter, Echo, is on the girls’ team.

Echo was one of six students chosen at random to make the first baskets in the brand new goals.
Others students chosen were Robby Samson, William O’Neal, Emmett Temple, Leslie Espinosa and Darvin Contreras.

“It’s amazing to see what they’ve done,” said Candy Gaskill, a 1984 Ocracoke School grad who had played basketball in the old gym and attended the ceremony. “When I walked in my mouth just dropped and tears came to my eyes.  They’ve done an exceptional job.”

Others, too, got choked up.

Dave Tolson, the school board member from Ocracoke gave a timeline of basketball on Ocracoke.

“I almost didn’t make it through my speech,” he said after the ceremony about the emotions he felt during his talk.

Basketball was invented in 1891, he told the student body, teachers, staff and community members who attended.  

It wasn’t until 1964 that basketball became a part of school kids’ life on the island, thanks to then principal Bob Butts.

“He believed, and persuaded the school board, that students also need strong bodies as well as minds,” added Principal Walter Padgett, who became the school principal last year.

Padgett is enhancing the current athletic offerings of cross-country and basketball with the addition of middle school boys’ baseball, and girls’ softball and volleyball, which will begin in the spring.

Dophin Booster Club Interim President David Scott Esham was instrumental in raising an additional $50,000 to purchase new scoreboards, wall pads, and goals, Padgett noted.

The newly launched booster club will do a variety of fundraising activities throughout the year and membership is open to anyone.

“Today was kind of our kick-off,” said Garrick Kalna, one of the parents involved.

He said the boosters will have a school spirit store alongside the concession stand in the leftover part of the old gym, which will be used as an all-purpose room and will be available for community functions.

New wooden bleachers, yet to arrive, will seat about 300. The addition of several hundred chairs, placed on three large vinyl pads to cover the gleaming wood, would make the new gym capable of seating close to 1,000 people.

If anyone wants to donate the cost of the pads, which was $2,400, Padgett said that would be one less bill the school has to pay.

Although all the costs for the new facility are not in, Padgett estimated it will cost about $100,000 when everything is done, including new sidewalks and grass sod around the back.

The old cement-floor gym was 75 percent smaller than regulation basketball courts of other high schools.

Nevertheless, Ocracoke School kids did well in their games in the last school year, with the girls’ team going undefeated and the boys’ team 2 and 12.

“This new gym is going to be great for our students and the community,” Padgett said, echoing many others in attendance.

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