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District 16’s new high school just Grand

Mark S. Smith
Special to the Post Independent

Science teacher Brian Roddiger says it’s going to be “the best school year ever.”

That sums up the sentiment heard from the staff of the new Grand Valley High School in Parachute.

With the school poised to open its doors Sept. 3 – the first day of school – staff and administrators alike are enthusiastic and pleased with the new facility.

Construction of the school is on schedule, says Steve Brubacher, construction supervisor for Garfield County School District No. 16, and the school site is alive with activity in preparation for opening day.

Teachers and construction workers alike are working at the campus to prepare for the incoming students.

Work at the 41-acre site began a year ago, funded by a $12.6 million school bond issue. A total of 97,000 square feet of new school buildings are now in place to accommodate the 200-225 students expected to attend this year.

The new school is bigger, more modern and better-equipped than the 65-year-old school it replaces, and teachers and administrators seem tickled pink.

“A big thanks is owed to the community for putting its children first, and getting this facility built,” says John Johnson, principal of the new school. “We’re all excited that we’ll now be able to offer so much more to all of our students.”

Student population is expected to increase in the next few years.

Class sizes at the two “feeder schools” to the high school, Bea Underwood Elementary and L. W. St John Middle School, are booming, says Johnson.

The new high school is expected to reach its capacity of 425 students in three years. The school is designed for expansion to accommodate as many as 650 students.

On Friday, plastic sheets protected new carpeting in the hallways and classrooms. Shrink-wrapped furniture and equipment are waiting to be unwrapped and assembled.

But on Sept. 3, all will be ready when the doors open to Parachute and Battlement Mesa high-schoolers.

Even as workers put the finishing touches on the huge concrete “Grand Valley High School” sign in front of the school, teachers were busy in the various classrooms unpacking books and setting up equipment.

And the mood of the teachers was best described as exuberant.

They will be teaching in new, state-of-the-art classroom facilities – which they also helped design. The teachers provided input to the planning and structure of the new classrooms, and are enthusiastic about the results.

Industrial arts teacher Mike Cain helped plan the layout for his new classroom.

“In the classroom at the old high school, I couldn’t see the students from my classroom office,” he said. “I helped plan this new classroom, and it’s great.”

The new office has several windows looking out onto the classroom, which will allow Cain a full view of his students.

Students taking his course will learn woodworking skills such as cabinet making and handcrafting objects from aspen wood.

A few classrooms down, Roddiger was busy in the school’s new science lab setting up microscopes and arranging displays. A plastic, life-sized human skeleton looked on and the classroom aquarium bubbled in the corner.

Roddiger is looking forward to working in the new facility and excitedly told of plans for “outdoor classrooms,” working on interpretive nature trails along Parachute Creek during the upcoming year.

A walk down another of the school’s freshly painted hallways brings a visitor to the classroom of consumer and family studies teacher Nickie Gomez.

“I’ve got a smile on my face,” said Gomez, who was busy unpacking boxes and cleaning her classroom.

And she did.

“I’m thrilled and I can’t wait for the school year to start,” said Gomez.

She will teach cooking, sewing, nutrition and home budgeting.

“This is like setting up my own house, but with seven kitchens,” she exclaimed, unpacking another box of supplies.

Choir teacher Kim Klinzman, a teacher for 20 years, said he is “in heaven” preparing for the new school year. His students will have a new auditorium and stage to showcase their talents, complete with state-of-the-art lighting and sound.

Art teacher Doug Senteney is looking forward to teaching more computer-based art to students this year.

“Last year, we were very limited,” he says.

“The old classroom was small and cramped and equipment was minimal.”

“This year, the sky’s the limit,” he added.

For sports and sporting events, the new campus boasts a huge main gymnasium, which can be split into two gyms, an auxiliary gym, and all new fields and tracks. Workers on Friday were busy constructing the scoreboard for the football field.

“The school district thanks everyone who helped with this project, especially the taxpayers,” said Brubacher. “We have a facility to be proud of, that will benefit the entire area for many years to come.”

The district will host an open house at the new campus sometime in September, “on a date to be announced soon,” added Principal Johnson.


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