Facelift, traffic signal ahead for Halls High

Sandra ClarkHalls, Our Town Leaders

Halls High School will get a $2 million facelift for exterior upgrades and possibly a new color scheme in the commons area, said principal Spencer Long. The money has been appropriated, but architectural plans are not complete. Also, a new traffic signal at Ledgerwood Road and Maynardville Pike should enhance safety for students driving or walking to school.

Halls High School has enrolled 1,300 students and Halls Middle School has 1,100 students. That’s 2,400 folks looking to beat the bell every morning. Long spoke to the Halls Business & Professional Association on Aug. 17 at Beaver Brook Country Club.

Halls High graduated 96% last year, “putting us very near the top in Knox County Schools.”

Long, starting his third year as principal, is himself a graduate of Halls High School. “The school continues to have extraordinary students and teachers who really care,” he said.

Halls High has nine vocational (CTE) programs leading to industry certification. The school has more than 50 clubs and a new Wednesday schedule to enable clubs to meet during the school day. Varsity athletics are strong with last year’s football team going 8-2.

But Halls High has challenges as well. Some 60 students do not use English as their primary language, leading to a need for Spanish-speaking tutors. Some 17.6% of students live in poverty, Long said. Last year’s Covid-related disruptions impacted teachers and students alike. At Halls, 300 students “went virtual,” not coming to school at all.

And TCAP scores released this week show deficiencies that must be addressed. “Only 5% hit the master’s level on math. English/language arts was better, but only 20% hit the master’s level.” Long is seeking funding to pay teachers to work extended hours for one-on-one tutoring to catch kids up.

He encouraged the business leaders to offer incentives to boost attendance. His personal goal this year is to inspire students. “Students learn best when teachers inspire them.”

First football game is Friday

Halls will travel to Gibbs for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday, Aug. 20. Tickets for $8 are available online and the game will be streamed here.

Coach Scott Cummings

Head coach Scott Cummings attended the Halls BPA meeting with Spencer Long. He denied rumors that he might leave. “I’m here; my kids are here. I’m invested in this community.” In fact, his older son is slated to be the starting quarterback and his younger son will see some action as a receiver. Cummings had great success as the West High coach for 13 years.

“My mission is every kid zoned to Halls goes to Halls,” he said.

“We can run, for sure,” he said of this year’s team, listing three guys who can run a 4.5 (second 40-yard dash). “We’ve just got to get them the ball.”

The team is “thin up front” on both offense and defense.

Cummings thanked club members for their support. He singled out Regal Entertainment, Tindell Inc. and Hurst Excavating as major donors. The football program missed two home games last year because of Covid. “We took a $30,000 hit, so we’ve had to kick it into high gear on fundraising.”

  • Halls High golf team (11 boys, nine girls) is seeking sponsors. Info: head coach Ashley McGaha, 865-8054108.
  • Golf tournament to benefit the Halls High softball team is set for Saturday, Sept. 4, at Knoxville Municipal Golf Course. Shotgun start at 8 a.m. Info: Laura Dalton, 865-679-1623 or Michelle Gregory at 865-318-2799
  • Halls BPA has set Trunk or Treat at the Halls Community Ballpark for Saturday, Oct. 30. Details to follow.

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