School officials thank community in ribbon-cutting ceremony for addition | AspenTimes.com

School officials thank community in ribbon-cutting ceremony for addition

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Homecoming ? for the students of Aspen High School, it usually means big games and even bigger parties to celebrate the start of a new sports season.

This year, however, Aspen High’s “homecoming” was a literal one.

AHS staff and district administrators turned out Saturday afternoon ? between sporting events, of course ? for the formal dedication of the new AHS addition. The two-story arc, located between the old AHS building and Maroon Creek Road, opened unofficially in August, but Saturday’s ceremony was scheduled as a “thank you” to the community that was instrumental in its construction.

Aspen School Board President Augie Reno detailed the history of the AHS project for a crowd of teachers, parents and students. The school district’s capital improvements, Reno said, were once made with “whatever was left in the budget” after district necessities were attended to ? until Reno helped put together a slide show detailing the high school’s shortcomings.

In November 2000, school district officials petitioned Pitkin County voters for a $40.9 million improvement bond. The community overwhelmingly endorsed funding for the new school, Reno said.

“We have to thank the community for supporting this facility. It tells me where their priorities are ? educating the kids of this valley and this town,” he said.

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“The community saw the value in this project and passed the money to build it,” AHS Principal Kendall Evans agreed.

District Superintendent Tom Farrell thanked the “championship team effort” that led to the AHS project, including designs by the Denver-based firm of Bennett, Wagner and Grody Architects and plans by the crews from G.E. Johnson Construction.

“We also have to thank the students and teachers for putting up with the construction schedule,” Reno added.

AHS students actually began the 2002-2003 school year a few classrooms short. The state-of-the-art gym wasn’t ready for athletes until last week (opening just in time for a homecoming pep rally last Wednesday), and a few classes are still held in “modular” classrooms stationed around the district campus. However, families eagerly toured over 110,000 square feet of school amenities on Saturday, praising student perks such as the new weight room, student lounge and lecture hall as student tour guides outlined future school improvements.

Though Saturday’s ribbon cutting was a significant step for AHS staff and students, the school district’s construction project is only half over. District officials will now focus on the renovation and refurbishing of the 62,000-square-foot “old” Aspen High building, which will eventually house the main AHS commons area and science department.

The entire AHS project will be wrapped up in December, Evans said, and could be opened to students returning from Christmas break.

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