New year, new building
CARBONDALE – Carbondale high school students start attending classes today in a colorful new building that visitors described as “beautiful” at Tuesday’s open house. “I’m very into art and I like the whole lighting experience,” said Kholi Jewkes, an incoming freshman who helped out at the new Roaring Fork High School’s open house. She added that the building’s design shines natural light into classrooms and can lead to increased creativity.”It’s beautiful,” said Brad Nicholson. “The library is absolutely spectacular. … It looks like the school has emphasized academics over athletics, but they’ve done a good job with both of them.” Nicholson said his three daughters have graduated from high school already, but he and his wife Pat wanted to check out the new building. The rest of the schools in Roaring Fork School District Re-1 started Tuesday. RFHS got some extra days to move into its new building.”All the rooms have windows,” Nicholson said. “I didn’t see one without a window.”
He added that the building seems to be well-designed and makes good use of space.”It’s awesome,” said parent Marianne Ackerman.Students aren’t the only ones new to the building. Betsy Graf came from Maine to begin teaching at the new RFHS.”I think it’s a beautiful school. The library is gorgeous,” she said.She likes the views of Mount Sopris and colors throughout the building.Sopris views are framed by a large wall of glass in the media center or library. They’re also emphasized by constant windows along a curved balcony on the second floor. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, white and other colors brighten most of the interior.”I think there’s 40-some colors throughout the building,” Graf said.
But she’s got a favorite color in her classroom – sky blue -unlike a male teacher upstairs whose classroom is pink, Graf joked.”I’m thrilled with the design of the building,” principal Dale Parker said. “Everyone that’s seen it has loved it.”The media center and “auditeria” form the spine of the building. The auditeria is a terraced cafeteria with a stage, allowing it to double as an auditorium. Classroom wings extend out to either side from the media center and auditeria on two floors. The curved walkway connects wings on the second floor.Classrooms are larger and are grouped into “neighborhoods” by grade level with small group meeting rooms. There are also “living rooms” that provide space for presentations or informal gatherings between classes.Parker said the design lends itself to a focus on academics with all wings of the building leading toward the media center.RFHS has 25 of 30 staff members returning or transferring from other positions in the district. The school was expected to have about 320 students this year, with more than 100 freshman.Parker said previously that the new year and new building is an opportunity to change how the school does business.
People had raised concerns last year about what they felt was a lack of communication between the school and community and a lack of academic rigor at the school. Some felt it was not challenging enough to retain students. The school also was operating without an accountability committee, a violation of state law. Parker admitted the lack of an accountability committee was an oversight on his part but said a lack of parent involvement was partly to blame. A committee has since been formed.RFHS is also striving for an international focus. Parker said it’s probably the only school in the area offering three foreign languages: German, French and Spanish. He said RFHS is also encouraging foreign exchange programs and opportunities for summer travel.”We’re looking at international themes within our curriculum to give students more of a global perspective on their role in the world,” Parker said.Valley Journal editor John Stroud contributed to this report.
Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 firstname.lastname@example.org
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