By Sarah Carlson, Staff Writer
Take a West Texas town, add a huge rivalry and throw in football. Now try and put the two schools together to see what happens.
Proposition 3 of a bond proposed by the Abilene Independent School District recommends combining the Abilene High School Eagles and the Cooper High School Cougars and building one high school to serve the entire district for 10th through 12th grades.
Many ACU students who grew up in Abilene are questioning the reasoning and effectiveness of the proposal.
“I think that would be ridiculous; they are both 5A schools,” said Nicolas Acosta, sophomore history major and AHS graduate. Acosta said he would support the merge if the school board members thought it necessary.
Abilene High’s enrollment has dropped from 2,635 to 2,260 students during the past five years, and Cooper currently enrolls 2,064. Both schools could be downsized from 5A to 4A.
The new enrollment cutoffs for 2004-2006 are 1,925 students and above to be classified as a 5A school and 900 to 1,924 for 4A schools.
The AISD conducted a public hearing on the bond proposal Monday night. A majority of those in attendance opposed the proposal.
The question for students is not about size or saving money, but whether they could mix the black and gold of Abilene High with the red and blue of Cooper and attend the same school as their rivals.
“It’s a pride issue,” said Tarah Alvarez, sophomore biology major and AHS graduate. “People that aren’t from West Texas really don’t understand.”
The cross-town rivalry in football is practically legendary, and “football is a huge thing in Texas,” Alvarez said.
“Around here you are taught what high school you will go to when you are in elementary school,” Alvarez said. “You get excited about whether you will be an Eagle or a Cougar.”
Lauren Allred, sophomore theatre major and AHS alumna, knows firsthand about the rivalry-her mother is a teacher at Cooper. The Allred family has been featured in the news before the big football game between Abilene High and Cooper to show a family with members on both sides of the rivalry.
“Yeah, you could make one big school,” Allred said. “As long as it is called Abilene High and the colors are black and gold.”