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New era in education

Published 4/2/2012 in Progress

New Garden City High School set to open in August.

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

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Brad Nading/Telegram Work continues in September 2011 on the competition gym at the new Garden City High School. The gym has since been completed as workers are now putting the finishing touches on the new school.

Brad Nading/Telegram Work continues in September 2011 on the competition gym at the new Garden City High School. The gym has since been completed as workers are now putting the finishing touches on the new school.

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Brad Nading/Telegram  USD 457 Superintendent Rick Atha, center, explains how a typical classroom will be set up, including smart boards, during a tour in September 2011 of the new Garden City High School.

Brad Nading/Telegram USD 457 Superintendent Rick Atha, center, explains how a typical classroom will be set up, including smart boards, during a tour in September 2011 of the new Garden City High School.

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Brad Nading/Telegram  Crews move the buffalo sculpture in to place in front of the new Garden City High School building. The sculpture had been in front of the main entrance at the current GCHS.

Brad Nading/Telegram Crews move the buffalo sculpture in to place in front of the new Garden City High School building. The sculpture had been in front of the main entrance at the current GCHS.

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Brad Nading/Telegram The football stadium, practice areas and student parking are seen from the student entrance on the north side of the new Garden City High School in September 2011.

Brad Nading/Telegram The football stadium, practice areas and student parking are seen from the student entrance on the north side of the new Garden City High School in September 2011.

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Brad Nading/Telegram New signage at the Mary Street entrance is in place at the new Garden City High School.

Brad Nading/Telegram New signage at the Mary Street entrance is in place at the new Garden City High School.

In the fall, students at Garden City high school will be switching from the campus on North Main Street to a 21st century state-of-the-art building on East Mary Street.

The building upgrade comes with many improvements to technology, security and education, according to USD 457 and construction officials.

Sports experiences for fans and athletes also will be enhanced.

In early March, the USD 457 Board of Education approved finishing the stadium at the new high school. The project will not exceed $912,000 and the district has received $300,000 already in sponsorships and donations. The $92.5 million high school project also had come $2,060,000 under budget.

The board approved converting Abe Hubert Middle School into Abe Hubert Elementary School at a cost of $1,000,000, approved $1,600,000 toward new technology at the high school, including surveillance cameras, computers, printers, Smart Boards, distance learning systems, hardware and labor costs.

The board also approved more money to convert the current high school into Horace Good Middle School at an estimated cost of $900,000. Originally, just $1 million was approved total for both of those projects, but the district had to spend more than anticipated. Atha said the district would have used capital outlay money, if needed.

The board approved $140,000 to install electrical wiring and fiber on the new high school football field.

Coming in under budget allowed the school board to approve construction of a $975,000 ticket/concession/restroom and storage building. This also allowed the asphalt parking to be changed to concrete and for adding artificial turf to the football field, which should save on such future costs. Lead Architect Stewart Nelson of Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael and Nelson, noted that maintenance of artificial turf costs much less than natural turf, which requires water among other amenities in an area with a generally dry climate.

The current high school covers 225,000 square feet, and the new school will be 384,000 square feet on 160 acres with 120 classrooms.

Academy-style learning

Roy Cessna, public information officer, said the four different academies will enhance learning for students.

"We're taking the fourth or fifth largest high school in the state of Kansas and breaking it up into four different academies," he said.

The academies are: the Academy of Trade and Health Science, the Academy of Arts and Communications, the Academy of Public Service and the Ninth Grade Academy. Each career academy will have teachers from different subjects who will combine their efforts as a means of integrating academic and technical curriculum. Students will be able to participate in different academies each year, with the ultimate purpose of better preparing them for college and careers than traditional educational systems, Cessna said.

The academies will help hone students' talents and interests while possibly setting them on a career path.

In addition, students can leave GCHS with certifications in various areas including:

* American Welding Society (AWS) Certification - Welding

* CNA - Certified Nurse Aide

* CMA - Certified Medial Aide

* MOS - Microsoft Office Specialist Certification, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Access programs

* CPR - First Aid Certification

* Graphic Design - Certification in Photo-shop and Illustrator -Adobe, Software

* Serv-Safe Certification - Sanitation Certification - Culinary Arts

* ProStart Certification - Certification of Culinary Skills - Endorsed by National Restaurant Hotel Association.

"Students can essentially get their certification at the high school and move right into the workforce if they want," Cessna said.

Each career academy will have teachers from different subjects who will combine their efforts as a way to integrate academic and technical curricula. Students will be able to participate in different academies each year, with the ultimate purpose of better preparing them for college and careers than traditional educational systems.

School officials also hope the resulting smaller populations of students will increase motivation and decrease dropout rates.

The school also has the potential to expand and accommodate up to 2,500 students. Currently, the building can house 2,000 students.

"As the community grows, we'll have the facility to meet those needs," he said.

The school district is the largest employer in the city, at 1,300 employees, and the second in the county behind Tyson Fresh Meats. In the general fund for the 2011-12 school year, the district had $46 million, and the total overall budget for the district is $80 million. The monthly payroll for the district totals about $5 million.

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