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Grand Valley High School: A new campus for a new century

Sandy Hanson
Special to the Post Independent

The beginning of the 2002-03 school year marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of education in the Parachute area.

After the passage of a 14.45-mill bond issue in 2000, Garfield County School District No. 16 embarked on building its first campus designed solely for high school students.

That building was dedicated on Thursday night as members of the community gathered to help celebrate the beginning of a new chapter of education in District 16.



Superintendent Dr. Steven McKee was proud to present the new facility to the community.

“This is a building that everyone should be proud of. It is through the efforts of the community, the staff, the architects and the contractors that we have this beautiful facility. Without the contributions of all those people we would not be here today.”



Many of those involved with the project were on hand for the dedication and were recognized for their efforts.

Special recognition was given to Mark Cowan, Steve Brubacher and Ron Palmer. Cowan was surprised when he was called upon to receive recognition for the artwork that adorns the walls of the school.

Both Palmer and Brubacher were recognized for their help in overseeing the project. Brubacher served as the construction supervisor for Garfield County School District No. 16 and was on site every day making sure things were going according to plan. District 16 school board president Ron Palmer was also on site helping out in whatever capacity he could.

Also receiving special recognition were former school board members Pam Lair, John Loschke, Pam Mershon and Dave Higuera.

The community as a whole was also recognized for its support and help in making the evening possible.

“If we hadn’t had the support of all of you here we would not have been able to accomplish all of this,” said McKee.

Architect Jim Cook, LKA Partners Inc. and Paul Waltron were on hand to present the school to the new caretakers.

“This was a great project to work on. We got to design the building for the staff and students who were going to use the building. The community and district worked together to bring to the district a top-notch facility,” said Cook.

Accepting the school were Palmer, Grand Valley High School Principal John Johnson and student body president Jenni Hirneisen.

“I’m proud of this building and proud to go to this school. Thank you for giving us this building,” said Hirneisen.

Community members were clearly impressed as they toured the new facility. Everyone seemed to have their own favorite areas. For some it was the Cafetorium with its state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. For others it was the art and industrial arts area and for others it was the athletic facilities.

The school is designed for 400 students and can easily be expanded to hold 600.

The 41-acre campus is the first project in District 16 that was designed to house strictly high school students.

Grand Valley Union High School opened in 1911 and was the first high school built in the Parachute area. The school sat on the old high school site on East Second Street next to the elementary school, which had been built in 1891.

That campus took on a new look in 1937 when a 16,375-square-foot, one-story building was constructed on the same site. The new school housed classrooms for the high school in one wing and grade school classes in the other wing.

A 17,000-square-foot expansion was added to the building in 1966. That expansion included a three-classroom wing on the grade school side and a gymnasium and locker room on the high school wing.

The building remained a multilevel school until the early 1980s, when the area found itself in the middle of an energy boom. With an influx of workers in the gas industry the district soon found itself in the middle of a classroom shortage. After Bea Underwood Elementary was built in 1982 and L.W. St John Middle School in 1983, the building became the sole home of Grand Valley High School.

The school now sits only a few hundred yards from one of the first school sites in Parachute and is poised to guide students for generations to come.

Sandy Hanson is the public information director for Garfield County School District No. 16.


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