High on high school: Students, parents, staff laud new building
What it has: Large, airy classrooms. Spacious hallways. Wonderful acoustics. Natural light. Not to mention the best 2A school gym in the state.
What it doesn't have: mold, asbestos and water damage.
"We are sad to lose the school we went to for so long, but it's nice to have a nice, safe environment," said Travis Ramsey, student council president.
Ramsey greeted people at the front door during an open house for students and parents on Jan. 2. The consensus: the new school is not only safer, but also a boost to school spirit.
"I feel proud to be here," said Haley Comstock, a junior who plays basketball and volleyball. "I love it. It's big, and it's better for sports."
"Amazing," "wonderful" and "great" were some of the words parents, students and staff used to describe the new school. Another frequent description: Big. For visitors, there's a map available in the office, but here's the basic layout: When you enter the front door, the office is on the right. On the left is the library/media center, which can be closed off from the rest of the building for use after school hours.
Down the hall on the left, a hallway leads to the English and social-studies classrooms. During last week's open house, English teacher Kathy Remenar was putting pictures on the wall, while social studies teacher Daniel Moose was unpacking boxes. Students are pretty thrilled with the new school, he said, and as are the teachers.
A hallway to the right off the main corridor leads to math and physical science classrooms, including a large lab with ADA-level work counters. It also has natural light and high ceilings.
"I have space to launch stuff for physics," said Katy Turnbaugh, who teaches chemistry and physical sciences.
Down the staircase at the end of the main hall is what is called the school's "Main Street." The first door on the right is the band room, which has a high ceiling and excellent acoustics, band teacher Chad Martin said. Next is the backstage door to the auditorium, then the concession stand and booths. Past the booths is the entry door to the auditorium, which seats 346, and the cafeteria at the end of the hall, adjacent to the south doors. Opposite the cafeteria is upper level of the two-story gym. When the bleachers are up, the gym has two full-sized basketball courts, side by side, plus a wide corridor outside the court lines. When the bleachers are down, there's room for 1,200 spectators.
"For a 2A school we have the nicest gym in the state," Coach Brian Rambo said. "Our gym is second to none."
A hallway to the left when you are facing the gym leads back under the main floor. An intersecting hallway on the right leads to the business and EAST labs, ALE classroom and teacher's lounge. At the end of the hallway is the art room, a large studio space with lots of natural light and a separate storage closet for supplies, something the old art room didn't have.
"The supplies were in the studio space," art teacher Jessica Cummings said. "They took a lot of space."
Last Wednesday, students lined up in the office for locker assignments, then checked out their new lockers, painted in the school color: red.
"I really like it," Izabella Young said. "I'm glad we got a new high school."
There are a few drawbacks, according to English teacher Kathy Remenar: It's so big, she keeps getting lost. And the teachers' lounge is 28 steps down from the main floor -- and back up. Remenar's prediction:
The first basketball game in the new gym was Tuesday. The first public event in the new auditorium is the school play, "A Doll's House," opening Friday, Jan. 11 and continuing Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for students and seniors 60+. The Jan. 11 performance is free to the first 240 people who call the high school (479-253-8875) and request seats, the drama students' way of saying thanks for the new performance space.
There will also be a dinner theater on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, starting with dinner at 6 p.m. and a performance of "It's not you, it's me," a short comedy by Don Zolidis.