By Sam Jack
Last week, students at Haysville High School and Tri-City Day School walked through the doors of a spiffy new school building.
The two schools, now under one roof, each have dedicated classroom and office spaces. They share a multi-purpose common area and cafeteria, a library, a full-size gymnasium and a nurse’s office.
The administrators of both schools said they are grateful to Haysville USD 261 voters, who approved the $15 million new facility when they voted in favor of the bond issue in June 2015.
The staff at Tri-City was especially excited to move to a facility that is bigger and brighter, and that has been purpose-built to serve the school’s mission of educating students with diverse emotional and mental-health needs.
“This school definitely looks much more like all of our other schools here in town, with a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and a library,” said Tri-City administrator Gina Keirns, naming three features that were undersized or absent at the old Tri-City building.
Several teachers found themselves getting emotional when they first arrived for move-in at the new school, Keirns said.
“For myself, I knew that it probably would say ‘Tri-City’ on the outside, but the first time I made the loop around to walk in, and saw that up there on the wall, it was very emotional,” she said. “It’s been a dream, it’s been a hope, and now it’s a reality.”
Josh Kelly, special education math teacher at Tri-City, said there is “no comparison” between the old Tri-City and the new one. His classroom, like several others on both the Haysville High School and Tri-City side of the building, has room for conventional classroom seating as well as computer work stations around the perimeter.
“We have our ‘safe place,’ and we have a space I think the kids will enjoy if they’re working in pairs,” Kelly said. “And you can see cows through the window, so that’s important to me.”
Mark Foster, the Campus High School assistant principal in charge of HHS, said he is grateful that the new building has a tornado shelter.
“You don’t ever want to have to go to the safe room, but it’s reassuring to know that we have a safe place for our staff and students to go,” he said. “We’ve been through some things with bad weather in Haysville, so it’s nice to have that security.”
Haysville High School serves students who, for a variety of reasons, have fallen behind in course credits or are at risk of not graduating on time.
“Our graduates get fully-accredited, legitimate high-school diplomas, and they go on from here to all kinds of institutions,” Foster said. “We have graduates with bachelors and masters degrees, as well as military, tech and trade schools.”
With its prominent location next to the water tower on Grand Avenue, the new building makes a statement that Haysville believes in HHS students.
“I told (the students) that during orientation,” Foster said. “It’s very powerful, and we’re blessed to have this in our school district.”