New shade structures installed in OHS courtyard

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee High School finished installing new shade structures in the courtyard on March 20, replacing the trees that have long been a mainstay in the center of campus.

The Okeechobee County School Board approved the decision earlier in the school year when Director of Operations Brian Barrett proposed the change after explaining how the trees had begun to grow too big for their spaces. Mr. Barrett said the roots of the trees had begun to damage the concrete and structures surrounding them.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Students at Okeechobee High School were quick to make use of the new shade structures installed in the OHS courtyard this week.

OHS Principal Dylan Tedders says that one positive from the trees having to be removed is that it allows the school to provide more seating for students on their lunch break.

“The new structure adds to the seating areas we’ve been expanding since we found out the state committee ruled OHS wasn’t a critical need for new construction,” said Mr. Tedders. “We want our Brahmans to have seating options for lunch and not have to bake under the Florida sun.”

Two large canopies were installed in roughly the same area the trees were originally in to help provide shade for OHS students.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
The three concrete planters and trees were a favorite lunch spot for many current and former OHS students.

The trees in the courtyard held sentimental value for many current and former students at OHS, who shared many lunch breaks with their friends under them. Some of those former and current students shared their sadness at seeing the trees gone on their social media. One comment read “I miss the trees” while another commenter posted the hashtag “Bring my trees back.”

“Many students understandably hated seeing the trees go,” said Mr. Tedders, “but they understood. From the positive comments, I believe the majority are OK with the upgrade. Today was the first day students had access, and the area was full during both lunches.”

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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