American Staff Writer

Right now, Roy Smith is pretty busy.

As the new principal of Moore's Southmoore High School, it's Smith's responsibility to hire all the school's teachers, coaches and professional staff, monitor construction and make sure the building has the right equipment needed.

A project, that's worth, say, about $40 or $50 million -- that's taxpayer money, too, so every move he makes is public.

And -- just to make things interesting -- Southmoore has to be open in time for the fall 2008 school year.

"It's an enormous task," Smith said. "It's not everyone that gets to be on the ground floor of a new school."

Named principal on Aug. 1, Smith -- a 20-year veteran of the Moore district -- is one of the administration's front men for its new multi-million dollar high school. And once Southmoore opens its doors, the responsibility rests fully on his shoulders.

"Sure, it's a big responsibility," he said. "But there are a lot of positives to be said for that. I will interview every staff person, I will have a say about every person that comes on board at this school. Not many people have the opportunity to do that. I feel very privileged."

Built to help Moore address its rapidly growing student population, Southmoore -- the district's third Class 6A high school -- is expected to have about 1,800 students from grades 9 through 12. Those students, school officials said, will be shifted from the Moore and Westmoore districts.

"We're starting something new," Smith said. "We're starting a new a school, establishing new traditions and a new culture. It's the coming together of the faculty and staff."

But before that first day, Smith needs almost 100 teachers, professional staff, counselors and equipment.

"Each month we're posting openings for different teachers of different core courses," he said. "We're taking the core courses -- math, English, science and history -- one month at a time."

Response to the postings, he said, has been tremendous. "Many teachers in the district have applied," he said. "I'm interviewing people almost every day."

Then there's the building itself.

"Inside, it still has a long way to go," he said. "The rain this year has been a hindrance, but the crews are doing a great job of getting caught up."

After the crews finish, Smith will be involved in the purchasing decisions for the entire facility.

"The startup costs will be tremendous," he said. "Right now, just an empty building under contraction is all that has been purchased."

That will change quickly as administrators buy furniture, computers and equipment for the school.

"Soon we'll have to equip the building," he said. "We'll need furniture and classroom equipment, such as lab equipment for science classes."

Southmoore also will have computers "throughout the building" Smith said. "Our district uses computerized attendance and grade programs. We will have computers in every classroom."

But even with a sparkling new building stuffed full of the latest technology, Southmoore, Smith said, will emphasize learning.

"We want to give our students every opportunity to succeed," he said. "We're going to be advanced placement oriented. We're going to really emphasize that."

That success also includes athletics and the search for head coaches.

"We're taking resum?s right now," Smith said. "The search for head coaches is ongoing, at least to the end of January."

While Smith was reluctant to predict how the SaberCats athletic teams would fare next year, he did say he expected his teams to be "competitive."

"We're going to put together the strongest staff we can put together," he said. "We'll be competitive. We will field teams in all sports."

And with sports, such as football, hugely popular in Moore, Smith said he expects a rivalry to develop between Southmoore, Moore and Westmoore.

"Next year we will be in the same district as Moore," he said. "Westmoore will be in a different district."

But the rivalry, he said, will be three-way.

"We'll be right there in the middle," he said. "It's like the Edmond situation. It's taken a long time for the Edmond rivalry to develop."

Still, despite the competition, the primary goal, Smith said, is to be a quality school.

"Our job at Southmoore, just like in the rest of the district, is to prepare kids for the future," he said. "That's what it's all about."

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