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Football Field Lifts Spirits At Morse High

Above: Morse High’s cheerleading squad takes part in ribbon cutting ceremony.

Audio

Aired 9/23/09

Morse High School in southeast San Diego is ringing in the new school year with a brand new football and track field. Students and campus officials say the makeover was long overdue.

— Morse High School in Southeast San Diego is ringing in the new school year with a brand new football and track field. Students and campus officials say the makeover was long overdue.

Students look at their school’s new track and field venue.
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Above: Students look at their school’s new track and field venue.

Cheerleaders with gold pom poms prance around Morse High School's new synthetic football field after a special ribbon cutting ceremony.

For years this arena was a neglected patch of brown dirt. Morse's football captain Eric Shipley says the field was both dangerous and demoralizing.

“The field was very muddy, there were a lot of potholes,” Shipley said. “A lot of people had to sit out a couple weeks for (sprained) ankles just for running sprints on the field and tripping in holes. It was really bad.”

Morse High School is in Skyline Hills, one of the poorest communities in San Diego.

The school was never able to raise enough money to fix the field.

The renovation included a new synthetic turf.
Enlarge this image

Above: The renovation included a new synthetic turf.

About $1.8 million of San Diego Unified's latest voter-approved school bond paid for the new synthetic turf and rubberized running track. Nonprofit groups also pitched in to help.

Now a green field and red track welcome this year's athletes. Morse's principal Harry Shelton hopes more students will turn to sports instead of gangs and violence.

“Especially for kids who are trying to break the cycle,” Shelton said. “This field provides an avenue or venue not just for the students who are presently here, but our little Pop Warner team, the Skyline Tigers. So when they come out here, it brings pride back.”

Three other San Diego high schools got track and field makeovers this year, but Morse's arena needed the most work.

The stadium itself still needs renovations. But Shelton says at least the kids are happy to head to practice or host a game. He says students used to hang their heads.

“It does make a difference in kids minds, especially when their young and impressionable,” Shelton said. “They see all these beautiful, wonderful facilities that other schools have.”

And the new field is already paying off. Morse's varsity football team won its first home game 32-0 last Friday.

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