Relief High School in Horizon West taking shape

Walls are starting to go up at the West Orange relief high school construction site, and Doug Guthrie has been named principal.

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  • | 4:51 p.m. June 21, 2016
  • Southwest Orange
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HORIZON WEST When Doug Guthrie was in 10th grade at Lyman High School in Seminole County, his world history teacher and soccer coach pulled him aside and asked him, “Guthrie, what are you going to do with your life?”

Guthrie, now the newly appointed principal of the West Orange relief high school, thought of his older brothers, who both had become teachers and coaches. He decided he would do just that. 

He started out teaching physical education and driver’s education in Orange County Public Schools, as well as coaching a variety of sports — everything from football to tennis. While teaching at Apopka High School, the assistant principal noticed he had administration on his certificate and asked if he would like to become a dean. 

“I never thought of it before, and I thought I would teach and coach like my brothers until the end of my career, so I said, ‘yes, I would.’” Guthrie said. “And that’s what started it all.”

He worked at Apopka High School for seven years and left to become assistant principal at Boone High School. Later, he became principal of Apopka Memorial Middle School and then University High School. He then returned to Apopka High School and spent the last six years there as principal. 

Now, he will open a school for his first time, something that he has hoped to do since he began working as an administrator.  

As a principal, Guthrie believes in what he calls the “triangle” — academics, arts and athletics. 

“Our No. 1 job as far as the employees of the school — the teachers, the administration, the clerical staff — is to make sure that every student graduates,” he said. “There’s many ways to do that. Providing academics that are correct for those students, making sure that students progress through their courses and achieve in understanding the standards in those courses. I truly believe that students who are involved in school do better in school, so well-rounded students need to have a lot of activities, such as performing and visual arts and athletics.”

Many of Guthrie’s students will come from West Orange High School — a school steeped in community tradition and pride. It is similar to the pride the community has for Apopka High, Guthrie said. So he plans to build that sense of culture and pride from the beginning. 

His first priority is to decide on the name of the school, as well as the school’s colors and mascot, which he hopes will be determined by the end of the summer.

The high school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Organization is beginning to organize and will hold a meeting Thursday, June 23, to discuss names, colors and mascots. The West Orange High School PTSO is organizing the process until the president and board of the new school’s PTSO can be formally selected, said Marci Sgattoni, treasurer of the West Orange High School PTSO. 

At the meeting, attendees will take a survey regarding names. The top names will be sent to the Orange County School Board to vote on. 


The West Orange relief high school is starting to take shape at its construction site on Winter Garden-Vineland Road.

People driving along the road can now look and see the school’s cafeteria standing. 

The construction process uses tilt wall panels. First, concrete is poured flat on the ground, and once it dries, a crane tilts the panels up vertically to create a wall. Currently, the cafeteria is the only building that has been tilted but drivers on Winter Garden-Vineland will soon be able to see much more of the school. This week, the gymnasium will be tilted, said Lauren Roth, senior manager of facilities communications at Orange County Public Schools.

“We’re entering a really exciting phase of the project where people driving by on the road will be able to see the building,” Roth said.

Within two months, all of the walls will be tilted, so those passing by will get a visual idea of what the entire campus will look like. 

As for the cafeteria, the next step is completing the structural steel beams on the inside. OCPS expects that the building will have a roof in one month. 

Substantial completion of the campus is scheduled for June 2017, prior to the school’s opening for the 2017-18 school year. 


Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].


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