Construction continues into second semester

Kris Long, Print Editor-in-Chief

Construction at MHS West campus is set to continue into the second semester after breaking ground in July of 2020. Since that summer, McCownGordon Construction has built and opened the new office layouts inside MHS, the multi-purpose practice field behind the school, the tennis courts, and the northwest parking lot for student use.

Additions to the west side of the school are scheduled to open sometime during the second semester. The soonest addition students are expected to get access to is the Southwest parking lot, which includes both parking spaces and a pathway from the Sunset Zoo overflow lot to West campus, so students parking in the overflow lot during winter months have a safer and more convenient path to campus. The addition of a two-way road that loops around the back of the building from Sunset and connects to Poyntz through the northwest, southwest and south lots is also in the works and is expected to ease the flow of traffic around those lots at peak times. 

“I’m hoping for a huge impact from Southwest parking lot,” Dorst said. “When we get back, it will not be the first day back… But I hope that that is a huge milestone for us because we need parking… we know we’re at and past capacity for parking so we want to be able to provide that for our kids.”

The fitness and health center addition to the back of campus should also open this academic year. It includes a main entrance for students parked in the northwest or southwest lots, and security will be moved to monitor it from Door 29 to the west door. The fitness and health center has an expansion of the weights room to approximately double its capacity, which seeks to offset the loss of the East Campus mezzanine and weight equipment and add more room for other P.E. classes, and includes a full wall of glass windows to allow for more natural light. A third gym is also in place to accommodate the freshmen P.E. classes that will eventually move up to West campus and add capacity for sports events. The additional gym space allows for all class meetings to be run simultaneously, with one class in Rezac and the other three in gyms. The new gym is also a FEMA-certified storm shelter that can hold the full school population in case of severe weather. 

With more gym and fitness center space comes new locker rooms and bathrooms. The new locker room facilities include the only private changing rooms at MHS — which include a shower, toilet and sink, all of which a handicap accessible — that students may request their gym teachers allow them to use. Beyond the individual private rooms in each facility, the boys and girls locker rooms include three curtained-off areas each for students to shower and a separate curtained area for them to change. 

“Whenever we get full access to the west side it’ll be a shift for all students, faculty and staff inside the building to figure out just a different traffic pattern coming into the building,” Dorst said.

The east side of construction is further behind completion from the West because ground for that part of the project was not broken until January 2021 and is expected to be complete next academic year. The three-story extension to the front of the school holds more D and E Hall general-purpose classrooms fit for English, math, science and social studies classes. It also includes lab science classrooms for the E-Hall extension. 

Along with more classroom space, the front of the building holds offices, an addition to the district’s Special Education program, a teacher’s lounge and an atrium that serves as a smaller secondary commons. Physical characteristics of the front extension include the full glass wall for the atrium extending the full side of the building that looks East over the front lot to Kansas Hill.  The classroom extension will not serve as a freshman wing, students of all grades will be integrated throughout the school as they are currently.
Moving into the second semester, students and faculty should not expect any major inconveniences due to construction, and any changes to parking will be communicated.  

“McCownGordon works closely with faculty and administration to operate during off-peak times and scheduled breaks,” East site superintendent Casey Winter said. “Levels of interruptions due to construction will be maintained, such as job site traffic and normal construction activities.”