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Work to begin on new high school

Published 8/28/2012 in Special Sections : GCHS

Editor's Note: This article originally was published in the Sept. 24, 2009, edition of The Telegram.

BY MONICA SPRINGER

School district leaders, students and members of the community gathered on a rainy morning Wednesday at the site of the new high school , to break ground on the $92.5 million, 384,000 square-foot building.

"This is a great day for Garden City public schools and Garden City," said Rick Atha, superintendent. "This facility is truly about our kids, our school and our future of Garden City."

The new high school is part of a $97.5 facilities upgrade that voters approved in November. Other plans include turning Garfield Elementary School into an early childhood center, converting Abe Hubert Middle School into an elementary school, converting the current GCHS building into a middle school, and moving New Outlook Academy into J.D. Adams Hall, which sits adjacent to the current high school .

"It's been a long time coming," said Jeff Crist, a member of the USD 457 Board of Education, adding that the community has talked about building a new high school for years. "It's really needed."

In the fall of 2007, a community-led high school facility group formed to research how to solve the issue of overcrowding at the current high school.

Craig Wheeler, co-chairman of the GCHS Facility Study Group, said at the groundbreaking that the group researched 10 different options, ultimately deciding to recommend two options to the Board of Education — building a new high school or building a second high school.

After the board voted to build one new high school, the bond campaign started. Shonda Collins, co-chairwoman of the Bond Campaign Committee, said the group held community meetings, made presentations, went door to door and distributed thousands of brochures and yard signs.

The new high school will hold 2,000 students initially, and will be built to expand and handle 2,500. According to a preliminary head count of students taken this week, there are 1,946 students attending the current high school, up from 1,914 last year.

The building will be a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the needs of Garden City students for years to come, said Stewart Nelson, an architect with Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael and Nelson.

The dirt work at the site will begin immediately, Nelson said. Students are scheduled to begin attending the new school in August 2012.

The audience also heard from Ken Graham of DLR Group, Overland Park, who said the new school would be a showpiece for the community, and David Crase, a Garden City commissioner who said the new high school would facilitate growth and economic growth in the community.

After the speakers, Atha, school board President Mike Utz, GCHS Principal James Mireles and GCHS Activities Director Bill Weatherly cut a red ribbon with a large pair of scissors, signaling the start of construction.

Then Atha and board members put on hard hats to shovel the first pieces of dirt on the project. Tractors roared in the background.

The new high school will serve a variety of functions, including reducing overcrowding, reducing class sizes and enhancing career and technical education programs.

Crist said the building will allow students to receive vocational training if they desire, and students could graduate with certificates in welding or culinary arts.

"It'll benefit the workforce of the community," Crist said.

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