GSHS looking for an ‘extreme makeover’
In the past several years, Glenwood Springs has seen the addition of a new city hall, jail, county annex building, Catholic church and two fire stations, and now the city’s high school hopes to be the next building makeover.Originally opened in the fall of 1953, the city’s high school was built next door to Garfield County High School. The building was constructed on a dirt field where students had once practiced football or hosted Sadie Hawkins Day races. The first class of seniors in 1954 had some 37 graduates. The new school kept the name Garfield County High School for about seven years, said former principal Nick Massaro. The old, three-story county high school became the town’s first junior high school for several years until it was condemned by the state during a Christmas break and knocked down the same spring, Massaro said.In 1962 a new junior high building was built on the west side of the high school, and a second floor of classrooms was added to the high school. Through the past 51 years, the high school has been added on to or renovated five times – in 1962, 1967, 1975, 1986 and 1995. An administrator in the building for 25 years, GSHS principal Mike Wells said the high school is the oldest in the Western Slope 4A classification. “The people of Glenwood Springs have gotten their money’s worth out of this building. It has served the community well,” Wells said.The building’s infrastructure, from the iron pipes to overtaxed electrical systems to lagging fire alarms, is showing its age. If all the computers in the computer lab are turned on, circuits often blow. Science lab teachers may have to run upstairs to flip breakers several times during class.By today’s educational and architectural standards, the high school no longer measures up. Halls and common spaces are too small. Most classrooms are undersized with no storage. The food service space is too small to serve meals. Student and staff parking spills over into neighborhood streets. Some sports teams head off campus to practice. “It’s no longer an adequate educational facility,” Wells said.Following a two-year process of strategic planning and facility studies that involved community and staff members, district officials are advocating new lifeblood for the high school in the form of a $35.4 million overhaul that would start in 2006. Community input during the planning process showed strong support for leaving the high school at its current site, which requires the acquisition of six acres of land south of the school. The project would create a new front to the high school that would face Grand Avenue. The school’s square footage would increase to handle future enrollment needs.District officials say they are planning a high school expansion that would serve the needs of the current almost 700 students as well as generations of students to come.”We would not be building a building for 2006,” Wells said. “We would be building a building for 2056. It just makes sense to do that.”Suzie Romig is the RFSD’s public information officer.
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