Published 8/28/2012 in Special Sections : GCHS
Closed lunch, academy setting, traffic just some of the things students having to get used to.
By RACHAEL GRAY
Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School band students organize in the band room to go have a group photograph taken for the yearbook on Aug. 18. The new band room is over twice as large as the previous school.
Brad Nading/TelegramA wall inside the main entrance for Garden City High School features the colors of the learning communities at the school. Yellow is for the School of Trade and Health Science, red is for the School of Arts and Communications, blue is for the School of Public Service and green is for the Freshman Academy.
Brad Nading/Telegram A large buffalo is etched on one of the north windows of the Garden City High School commons area. The north end of the commons area has been named 'the point.'
Brad Nading/ Telegram A group of Garden City High School students get condiments for their food on the first day of closed lunch period as others go through the lines in the cafeteria.
Becky Malewitz/ Telegram
Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School teacher John Ford, center, shows freshmen where the office is for the freshman academy Wednesday during the first day of school.
Brad Nading/TelegramA group of Garden City High School students get condiments for their food on the first day of closed lunch period as others go through the lines in the cafeteria.
Brad Nading/Telegram A portion of the Garden City High School commons area is shown on the first day during one of the lunch periods at the school. GCHS has a closed lunch hour this year.
Brad Nading/TelegramDiego Murillo, left, feeds a dollar bill in to a vending machine outside the Garden City High School cafeteria Thursday to get a turkey sandwich and fruit as Jessica Harman helps in through the process. The vending machines provide students a choice of either a turkey or ham sandwich or a garden salad so they are not waiting in the lunch lines. Murillo is a GCHS sophomore and Harman is the assistant supervisor for the GCHS cafeteria.
Becky Malewitz/ Telegram Students eat lunch on the first full day of the school year.
Becky Malewitz/ TelegramStudents pay for lunch in the GCHS cafeteria on the first full day of school.
It's safe to say that much about daily student life has changed at Garden City High School.
Students at GCHS have a new building to get accustomed to, closed lunch for the first time, new iPads to use and have to plan their days a little more around traffic before and after school. The core curriculum, test preparation and basic expectations from administrators are some of the few things that haven't changed.
The changes have gotten mixed reviews from students.
Ricky Carrasco, 17, said he likes the new building.
"It's gorgeous. It's a beautiful school. I think it's probably the best high school in the state. I'm really excited about sports, academics and even my math class," he said.
Other students, however, say that while the building is nice, they don't like getting lost in it.
Valencia Gutierrez, 17, said she doesn't like the closed lunch hours or the food.
"It's like a prison," she said, adding that she didn't eat on the first day of school.
Audrey Olivarez, 17, a senior, said she didn't think Garden City needed a high school that big, and that she had gotten lost the first day.
"Our mall isn't even this big. Why do we need a high school this big?" she said.
Derek Cook, 15, and Parker Tanner, 14, both freshmen, said they like the new building but that traffic is an issue.
The first few days of school, city officials, police officers and school officials worked to curb the traffic congestion. School staff took positions around the circular drive, urging people into the correct lanes and directing them when to stop or go.
Mireles said because of the new facility, the new schedule and new operations, the public, students and parents will need to be patient with the changes.
"I think in the next several weeks, we're really going to get this down," he said about the procedures and changes at the new school.
In addition to allowing more time before and after school for traffic, students are dealing with other changes.
The new school features four academies: 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, USD 457 Public Information Officer Roy Cessna said.
Don Murrell, trades academy lead teacher, said the academies are a nationwide movement and not just an experiment being done by GCHS.
The idea is based off of the National Career Academy Coalition.
"Career academies differ from traditional academic and vocational education because they prepare high school students for both college and careers. Academies provide broad information about a field such as health care, finance, engineering, media, or natural resources. They weave the themes into academic curricula that qualify students for admission to four-year colleges or universities," according to NCAINC.com.
Studies have found that students in career academies perform better in high school and are more likely to continue into post secondary education, compared to similar students in the traditional schools, the website says.
Some students already have gotten used to the academy structure as it has been implemented in some aspects of the curriculum.
Katelyn Greene, a senior, is in the health and sciences academy. She said the academy allows her to focus on what she's interested in and share the experience with like-minded students.
"I spend a lot of time in my health classes and take electives that are more specific in what we like to do. I like it because I have a lot in common with other students I'm in class with," she said.
Greene also said it helped narrow down her future plans.
"I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. Then I went into the health academy and got to see the opportunities I have and what I'm interested in," she said.
Although it hasn't been implemented fully yet, each student at the high school soon will be equipped with iPads. The devices will be used for quizzes, exams, daily work and will be taken home at the end of the day if the student has paid the $40 insurance fee. The district has purchased about 130 iPads for teachers and 2,200 for students.
Johna McClelland, senior, was a part of the 1-to-1 pilot program in the high school during the 2011-12 school year.
She said she uses her iPad to communicate with her teachers, especially because she's gone so much for activities. The iPad enables her to keep up on assignments while on the road or at home, she said.
"iPads break communication barriers between teachers and students," she said.
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