What the high school rebuild means to those ‘on the inside’

“What a surprise to see progress bring the old alma mater to the ground.” Bob Brodel, a class of 1967 graduate, is reminiscing over his high school career at Issaquah High School. “But, progress is necessary and we all must step aside eventually.”

By Erin Kim

For The Reporter

“What a surprise to see progress bring the old alma mater to the ground.”

Bob Brodel, a class of 1967 graduate, is reminiscing over his high school career at Issaquah High School. “But, progress is necessary and we all must step aside eventually.”

After attending IHS and being a runner on the school track team, he now lives on the East Coast. He was surprised to hear that the home of the old Issaquah Indians was being torn down.

As a resident of Issaquah, you have probably heard about Issaquah High School’s reconstruction and maybe you have already driven by the campus on 2nd Avenue to see half the school gone.

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 Issaquah School District’s Sara 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.

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 will accommodate 1,850 students.

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 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,” said Niegowski, describing 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 gave The Reporter 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,” said student Jamie Lutz.

The Associated Student Body 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 said. “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 said.

Jamie Elderkin commented on her experience.

“I never know when the bathrooms on the lower campus are working,” she said.

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 another obstacle as “there is always dust flying around in the air,” junior Kaitlyn Wernik said. “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.

“I look forward to not having to walk outside when it’s raining!,” said Alex Arteritano.

Students now have trouble finding seats in the cafeteria. Lutz looks forward to “a lunchroom we can all fit in.” The new commons will have 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.

Erin Kim, 16, is a junior at Issaquah High School. She hopes to make a positive difference in the world through her writing and leadership. She would like to acknowledge Constance Fletcher for a historical perspective on the reconstruction.