COLUMBIA - Battle High School is gearing up for summer school in less than a month when it will open its doors to students for the first time. Construction crews broke ground in July 2010 shortly after Columbia voters approved a $120 million bond issue.
The district budgeted approximately $75 million for the Battle project. Around $68 million of that total went toward the actual construction of Battle, the other $7 million went into the FFNE fund for the school or furniture, fixtures and equipment.
When you ask Battle HIgh School Principal Kim Presko about the 300,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility, her face fills with pride.
"It's a once in a lifetime thing for a school principal to be able to do this," Presko said.
Presko showed KOMU around the facility that sits on nearly 85 acres of land. The school has multiple features including a performing arts center that can seat 750 people, which is smaller than Hickman's but larger than the one at Rock Bridge.
"Parents say, what a great way to use our tax dollars, they're really excited about this," Presko said.
The band and choral rooms include new equipment, band uniforms, instruments and practice rooms for students. Battle's new band teacher Bob Thalhuber, who currently teaches at Rock Bridge, said every day unpacking his new gear is like Christmas.
"It's amazing, actually the support from the district's been great," he said.
There are four two-story wings off the main building, one for each grade ninth through twelfth. They're color coded to help kids find their way around. Classrooms are equipped with smart boards and projectors. Battle High School students will also get iPad minis.
"We are about education that's our business. Obviously we want our kids to get a great education and be wonderful citizens," Presko said.
The athletic facilities include a practice or auxiliary gym that attaches to the main gym. The main gym can seat nearly 2,000 people and features a jumbo-tron, a walking track at the top of the bleachers and volleyball nets that lower at the push of a button. Presko said students on tours really get stunned when they see the main gym.
"They're just like wow, this is amazing," she said.
Inside Battle you can also find a weight room with customized floors, fully-equipped culinary rooms, and a cafeteria that overlooks the football field.
"We got to make this place something that's unique it's not going to be like Hickman, it's not going to be like Rock Bridge, it's going to be like Battle High School and we want it to have a family feel and that everyone's welcome," Presko said.
Presko said the district stayed on budget for the Battle project. Now, it's time to preserve what taxpayers paid for.
"You are so lucky to be in a building that is brand new and it's our responsibility to take care of it because it's got to last for hundreds of years just like Hickman," Presko said.
The district plans to hold a dedication of the school on June 2 at 2 p.m.