New School, Big Changes
COLUMBIA - Public School Officials broke ground on the third comprehensive high school.
The school is being built off St. Charles Road on 80-acres of land not far from the Lake of the Woods Golf Course. The eco-friendly building has special features like highly efficient mechanical systems and water efficient landscaping.
It will stand two-stories high and will have a capacity of 1,800 to 2,000 students.
Many people from Columbia came to show their support of the new school. Superintendent Chris Belcher said he believes, "This school will do the same for this area, as Rockridge did for its surrounding area."
East Columbia is the site of new residential and business developments.
Current Rock Bridge High and Hickman High students were there, along with future students of the new high school. The building should open the fall of 2013, and because of the transfer of students from other schools, will celebrate its first graduating class in 2014.
Columbia Public School officials said designs and features of the school such as a gym, auditorium, media center, and administration areas will help create project-based learning and an integrated curriculum.
The new school will be roughly the same size as Columbia's two other major high schools with approximately 300,000 square feet.
Rock Bridge senior and Student Council Treasurer Sean Harper said he thinks the new school will reduce over-crowding.
"Things have just gotten a little overcrowded at Rock Bridge. There's a great atmosphere at Rock Bridge, but there's a lot of students," said Harper. "And I think it'll help thin things out a little bit. We have class sizes of 35 students and sometimes that's not enough for some kids who need a little bit more attention."
Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid said he thinks the school will help make "a great public school system better." McDavid also said the school will provide many more possibilities for students to get involved.
"There's more opportunity for young women to play sports, to be in drama, for boys to play football," said McDavid. "It's just an exciting time in a city like this to make a committment to public education."
Superintendent Chris Belcher said he thinks the new high school with ease the parking problem with a grade realignment. With the new school, students will attended high school for four years instead of three. Because of this, Belcher said the new freshman class will reduce the percentage of students who can drive at each school.
The new school will feature 1,250 parking spots and up to 80 bike spots.
Belcher said he has no plans yet for changing school zone boundaries, but will tackle the issue in the future.
School officials have not yet chosen colors nor a mascot for the new school, but a committee in the fall will look at the options.