Pausing in his walk down the second-floor hallway, David Trimble leaned down and plucked an almost invisible fragment of debris from the floor.
“I’ve been doing that all day,” he said, bearing the scrap of paper safely to a trash can.
Behind him the polished floor gleamed. Rows of new red lockers winked with highlights reflected from big arched windows in the stairwell at the end of the hall.
Everything is pristine at the new Boyd County High School, which opened Wednesday, the first day back from Christmas vacation. Instead of bemoaning the end of the holidays, teachers and students were savoring the newness.
“It’s really big. It’s pretty cool they spent all this money for us on this school,” said Austin Legg, a junior. “Everything is an improvement. Everything is bigger. The cafeteria, the gym is huge. I like the walking track and the auditorium most of all, because of the thousands of dollars in equipment and the seating is better.”
The classrooms are bigger and cleaner and so are the halls, said sophomore Alissa Phillips, who isn’t missing her old school. “We had buckets in the hall when it rained,” she said.
The building is well designed, said senior Ronnie Webb. “I like the architectural structure, the way they mapped out the building, like the library in the center with the sun shining through the ceiling,” he said.
“They put a lot of thought in it,” said Bryan Byard a junior, noting energy efficiency measures like sensors that extinguish lights in vacant classrooms. “The windows are amazing. You can see the outside and you don’t feel like you’re in prison for seven or eight hours.”
Designing the $42 million high school was a collaborative effort of architects and educators. Teachers and administrators had numerous meetings to submit their priorities for the school, and architects drew up plans incorporating most of their ideas.
That included the academy concept, under which students can follow specific career paths. It included high-quality science labs for students pursuing the high-demand science, technology, engineering and technology professions.
Architects worked with teachers to design around curriculum needs in other academic cluster areas such as business, information and marketing and communications, arts and humanities. There also is a freshman academy in which first-year students will take most of their classes.
Students were in on the design process too, said Superintendent Howard K. Osborne, who arrived at the school at 6 a.m. to oversee the first day of classes. “It’s a new facility and a new opportunity. It’s all been good,” Osborne said.
The freshman academy enhances education in the fragile first year of high school, said freshman teacher Eileen Darragh. “It is beneficial in helping them feel their way through their ninth-grade year in a more secure environment,” she said. The academy is concentrated in a second-floor wing and teachers work as a team, plan together and often lunch together, she said.
“It gives us a chance to stay together as a group, since we’re going to be graduating together,” said Andrew Emlund, one of the first-year students.
The science wing is well-equipped, said physics students gathered in a lab. “Definitely the science facilities are excellent and up to date,” said senior Andrew Grubb. “Based on college visits, I think these look like college-level science facilities.”
Students got building diagrams to help them find their way to class, said senior Taylor Benge. “The first-day feeling is exciting, but we’re a little bit nervous because we don’t know where we’re going,” she said.
In addition, students took orientation trips in the days before Christmas vacation, Assistant Principal Brad Brammel said. Many of them also attended the dedication ceremony in December and got to tour the school then.
Uprooted from their old school just months before graduating, Boyd County seniors appear to be embracing the new facility. “It’s a little bittersweet. My dad went to that high school. But it will be nice to be the first to graduate here. It will be something to remember,” said Corey Sublett.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2652.