Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High undergoes $15 million renovation

TAMPA

Derrick Brooks walked a little taller going to a high school that was just 6 years old in Pensacola. The paint on the walls was a little fresher than that of other schools in town, the floors a little less scuffed.

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer legend reminisced about his high school years last week as he stood outside a new school building in north Tampa that bore his name:

Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School.

Around him, workers pushed wheelbarrows and brooms while teachers aligned books on new library shelves. The gym's parquet floor smelled of fresh lacquer. After five years in a windowless former Circuit City building, the Hillsborough County charter school reopens Tuesday in a 67,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art campus that underwent a $15 million renovation.

A giant facade of curved gleaming glass serves as the school's entrance, filling the school with sunlight.

"I see opportunity. I feel humility knowing we have an opportunity to impact society for generations to come," Brooks said. "What excites me is the kids coming through those doors and their stories. … Could be the next president. Could be a doctor who cures cancer. Could be a pro athlete. Could be more teachers."

During his playing days, Brooks took about 35 students on field trips for years around the nation and world but wanted to help more teens. In 2005, he and the family of developer Edward DeBartolo combined their charitable organizations to create Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School. The goal was to open a publicly funded school that would provide a college-prep atmosphere with a rigorous curriculum that included advanced placement and dual-enrollment classes.

The school started with 183 students in 2007 but has grown to 335, half of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Its trajectory hasn't always been smooth. In 2008, the school slipped from a C to a D, prompting the school district to review its charter contract. But the school rebounded, posting A's over the past two years.

Last year, every single graduate was accepted into postsecondary studies, and the Washington Post labeled it one of the nation's "most challenging high schools."

"As you can see, our mascot is the Phoenix," principal Kristine Bennett said, pointing to a mural of a fierce orange bird covered in flames rising from the back wall of the gym.

On a tour of the not-quite-finished school at 10948 N Central Ave., Bennett showed off the glass-walled media center that used to be the entrance to City Life Church, which occupied the building before moving.

The campus, which will be wired for Wi-Fi, will stock 300 Kindles in the library that will be loaded with the school's curriculum for a student to check out if he or she can't afford a textbook.

"No excuses," Bennett said.

Two technology labs will include 50 computers while all five school departments will have a mobile cart that will include 25 laptops each. Four Mac Mini computers will help students with photo and yearbook projects while a cart of 25 iPads can also be checked out by teachers for students' use.

"It's really a college prep environment," Bennett said.

The cafeteria includes a shaded outdoor seating area that has been named the Lee Roy Selmon Terrace, after the late Buccaneer great who was involved in the school. The new Brooks DeBartolo also includes a fitness center, large band room, two science labs, TV studio, college and resource center and 23 regular size classrooms — plenty of room to grow for just 21 teachers. Classroom space jumped from about 630 square feet at the old campus to 900 square feet.

Ten classrooms are equipped with digital Promethean "chalkboards."

"It's very exciting to be at a school that's built to be state of the art and was built with teachers and students in mind," said Nathan Sturtzel, an English and journalism teacher and the school's baseball coach.

"I think environment is crucial to a school to bring together an identity that we own this place and give us a sense of community."

Justin George can be reached at jgeorge@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3368.

The path to a new campus

2005

Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School is created with the goal of building a college-prep curriculum.

2007

Classes begin with 183 students.

2008

D grade prompts a review of the school's charter.

2011

The Washington Post names it one of the nation's "most challenging high schools."

2012

School will reopen in state-of-the-art campus after $15 million renovation.

Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High undergoes $15 million renovation 08/18/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 18, 2012 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.
  5. White House signals acceptance of Russia sanctions bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The White House indicated Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept new legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and curtailing his authority to lift them on his own, a striking turnaround after a broad revolt in Congress by lawmakers of both parties who distrusted his friendly approach to …

    President Donald Trump’s ability to lift sanctions against Russia would be blocked.