OCEAN CITY – A vision that has been in the works for over a decade nears completion as the new Stephen Decatur High School new field house has opened in time for football season.
Lou Taylor has served as the principal of Stephen Decatur High School for the past 17 years and about five years into his position he had a vision.
“I had a vision that I would like to see us have a field house on the end of our football field but as time went on we got busy and it never really got off the ground,” he said.
The dream was to build a distinctive new field house at the south end of Seahawk Stadium providing an impressive backdrop to football games. The field house would serve as one facility for the football program in the fall and for lacrosse during the spring in hopes to alleviate overcrowding for the high school athletes that had grown along with the school’s enrollment.
At the same time, Taylor had wanted to create a Stephen Decatur Alumni Association and felt his hopes could become a packaged deal.
According to Taylor, the construction of the field house became a reality about four years ago while the economy remained in good shape but the process came to a halt as soon as the economy took a turn for the worst.
“From that point, I got together with a couple alumni here at Stephen Decatur and said I want to build this field house,” Taylor said.
The idea was to create the alumni association and the first project would be to begin a capital campaign to finally build the Seahawks a new field house.
Last October the Stephen Decatur Alumni Association kicked off the capital campaign with a $500,000 target to build the new facility.
“To date we are at about $450,000,” Taylor said last week in advance of Tuesday’s opening of the school year. “In this economy, it has been unbelievable and fantastic with the support we have gotten from this community.”
Taylor believes the remaining $50,000 to reach the campaign’s target could be wrapped up by the end of this year.
The alumni association has taken on some fundraising but a good portion of the funds have been received in donations.
“We have had as little as a $20 donation and we have had as much as a $50,000 donation,” Taylor said.
The building was opened on Aug. 14 and the Seahawks football team moved in the day before practices started. Taylor added that the building is about 98 percent complete there are just some finishing touches to be done on the inside and the hanging of the lettering on the outside.
“It’s all functional now and we’re looking forward to having everything done probably within the next two weeks,” he said.
Taylor said he has been overwhelmed by the support of the community through the entire process.
“The thing about it as a principal that has just made me feel great is how our community has rallied together in some of the most difficult of times to make this a reality for kids here at Stephen Decatur High School,” he said.
Taylor added that the alumni association was well aware of the hard times but was met with very little opposition when members presented an opportunity for a business or individual to become involved with the project.
“The community and our kids have been so excited about it, our coaches are excited, and it has just been a really great project for our school,” he said.