New Crossett arena hosts first public function

School officials said at least 500 people attended the first game in the new Crossett High School arena. The game was the first public function the new school building hosted. Classes are expected to start at the new campus Dec. 2.

The general public got its first view of the new Crossett High School facilities Monday night.

The new high school is nearly complete, and though the students won’t start school on the new campus until Dec. 2, the buildings are already being used.

The Crossett School Board hosted a brief meeting in the cafeteria Monday, and shortly after the basketball teams tipped off their season openers in the new arena.

The school board meeting lasted about 15 minutes so that the school board could join the students and community in the new arena.

CHS Interim Principal Anthony Boykin said the atmosphere was overflowing with positive energy.

“This was one for the Crossett Eagle sports history books,” School board member Katie Jordan said after the basketball games.

Crossett’s former Crossett girls basketball coach Lucy Williams said it was about time that there was a facility like the new arena in southeast Arkansas.

“I think this is wonderful and it’s better than the pictures,” Williams said.

CHS East teacher Audwin Bradford, along with members of the Crossett School District’s computer team, worked in the video room with student aides to control the megatron and the television screens placed around the arena to show the game.

“This is the coolest job ever,” student Cole Gill said as he sat behind three computer screens, talking through headphones to the students running the video camera outside the video room in the arena.

More than 444 guests had checked in before the girls’ game was over, and Pat Kelley of the Crossett Administration building — who works the gate at games — said that was definitely up from the usual number of paid guests, maybe even double.

“That’s just admission; that doesn’t include the athletes, cheerleaders, band, people with passes, concession stand workers,” Kelley said.

Crossett Athletic Booster Club President Chris Gill and his wife Whitney managed the concession stand and said that it was a much bigger task than working the old one, and required nearly double the volunteers.

The new concession stand doesn’t just offer chips and drinks, but has chicken strips, burgers and plenty of other snacks for guests.

Aside from the full kitchen concession stand, the arena features a band stand for the band, a student section and more space for the cheerleaders and Eaglettes.

Crossett student Avery Pennington, who is a member of the band, said they have way more space and she likes being right beside the student section.

“It’s a lot different than I expected, but I love it,” Pennington said.

CHS cheerleader Kali Beth Terrell said she thought it was awesome to be able to say she was one of the first cheerleaders to ever cheer in the new arena.

The fans enjoyed the new space as well, saying it was more comfortable and more enjoyable now that they weren’t packed into a small arena with bench seating.

“The arena is very nice, I love the screens that are all over the arena and I love the chair backs; it’s very comfortable,” Kimberly Williams of Crossett said.

Williams’ oldest daughter —who graduated in 2016 — played basketball, so she knows the old arena very well.

Chelsea Martin, who was visiting with one of the opposing teams, said it was the nicest arena she had ever seen a high school team play in. Martin said she travels to watch her nieces and nephews play basketball, and she hadn’t seen a high school arena that even compares.

“This may be a little smaller than a college arena, but it looks like we could be at a college game,” Martin said.

The next home game will be 5 p.m. Thursday when the Eagles host Strong.

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