|“What a surprise to see progress bring the old alma mater to the ground. But…progress is necessary and we all must step aside eventually,” Bob Brodel, a class of 1967 graduate, reminisces his high school career at Issaquah High School. After attending IHS and being a runner on the school track team, he currently resides on the East Coast and was surprised to hear that the home of the old Issaquah Indians is being torn down.
As a resident of the Highlands, you have probably heard about Issaquah High School’s reconstruction and maybe you have already driven by the campus on Second Avenue to see half the school gone. Even if this news is a shock to you, Sara Niegowski, Executive Director of Communications for the Issaquah School District, tells the Connections everything we need to know about IHS’ reconstruction.
The Issaquah High campus was built in the 1960s, making it the fourth oldest campus in the district. Not only has the walking of tens of thousands of IHS students caused the campus to weather, but the anachronistic style of the building “does not provide the optimal environment for a modern high-school,” according to Niegowski.
In February 2006, the bond planning committee passed the bond to rebuild Issaquah High School. The construction levy entails $84 million to fund for the reconstruction of Issaquah High School.
Planning for the architectural and pre-construction work fired up in 2007-2008. Throughout the fall and winter of 2008-09, the districted teamed with the city to finalize designs and receive the proper permitting. Actual demolition of the school began in April this year as they tore down the gym and the old commons. The district is planning for freshmen to return in September 2010 as they complete classroom spaces and add core facilities including the commons and lunch room. The performing arts center, landscaping, and other finishing touches will be added in the 2010-11 school year.
Right now, the south-end of the campus has been demolished while grading, foundation, and frames are being inserted in a number of locations. Underground utility installation has begun and storm-water piping is being furnished.
An astounding 600-seat performing arts center with a 100-seat blackbox, an expanded gym, plus eco-friendly features and three-story classroom wings that will accommodate 1,850 students sound like one glorious reconstruction! The new campus will cover 285,000 square feet (an addition of 96,000 square feet). The modernization will maximize the technology capability in all classrooms. The campus’ new design will create more of a physical community, since the school is focused on central, instead of spread out, facilities. IHS student Kaitlyn Wernik, also a Highlands resident, predicts “the completion will ultimately bring us closer together as a student body.”
“I think what makes it most unique from all other campuses is that the new buildings will be oriented to take advantage of Issaquah High’s beautiful environment,” Niegowski describes the individuality of the IHS campus. Windows and entrances will be oriented to capture the view of the surrounding hills and mountains that characterize Issaquah. This will also take advantage of maximum daylight in order to be energy and light efficient. Other green features include rain gardens for water retention.
As for life on campus, juniors at IHS give the Connections the 411. “I'm amazed that we [the Eagles] have been able to keep up some school spirit while our school is being torn down,” IHS student Jamie Lutz gives her insight.
ASB has been taking advantage of the construction by selling areas of the wall that separates the school from the construction site for student art. Students pay $1 per square foot to express their school spirit. “My favorite part of construction is the wall,” junior Kate Brunette comments, “it prevents graffiti and promotes student art.”
Since half of the campus is under construction, the district added portables creating an upper campus by Clark Elementary. As I was a sophomore last year at IHS, I witnessed the overcrowded stairways as students rushed from lower to upper campus within the five-minute break. “Travelling to the portables is not one of the best parts of my day,” junior Jordan Sukhabut comments. Jamie Elderkin also comments on her experience, “I never know when the bathrooms on the lower campus are working.” And for other students, like Rachel Hildie, “the only downside is that all our ‘home’ football games are going to be miles away.”
Eating lunch is also another obstacle as “there is always dust flying around in the air,” junior Kaitlyn Wernik gives her thoughts on the construction, “I'm not a fan because the dust makes my eyes water and my nose run – then I don't feel Prada fierce.” Students are looking forward to the idea of an enclosed campus. Highland’s resident and IHS student Alex Arteritano also exclaims, “I look forward to not having to walk outside when it’s raining!”
Furthermore, students have trouble finding seats in the cafeteria as student Jamie Lutz looks forward to “a lunchroom we can all fit in.” Have no fear because the new commons will accommodate 800 seats.
A modern building to provide for better energy use, compatibility with high-end technology standards, a more community-oriented environment, a better layout for security, and a state-of-the-art performing arts facility the whole community can use, this change is something everyone can look forward to.
Niegowski expresses her excitement, “there is so much energy around the rebuild! Issaquah High has been a cornerstone of the community for more than a century, and I can’t wait to see how everyone comes together to continue a new legacy at the modern campus.”