Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Harris, the 1st Infantry Division senior enlisted leader toured the next high school for students from Fort Riley and the Junction City communities April 9, 2021.
West of Junction City on State Highway 18, the next Junction City High School and new home of the Blue Jays is taking shape. Outer walls are nearly complete, the football field is in and the grandstands are going up. For Junction City and Fort Riley high school students, this will be their school beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
The current school was completed in 1959. That makes the school, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, much older than the national average. In fact, at the age of 61, many other school buildings would have been abandoned.
“In 1988, the average public school building in the United States was 42 years old,” states the NCES website. “…when a school is 20 to 30 years old, frequent replacement of equipment is needed. Between 30 and 40 years old, the original equipment should have been replaced, including the roof and electrical equipment. After 40 years, a school building begins rapid deterioration, and after 60 years most schools are abandoned.”
The facility has exceeded the average lifespan. The new building not only replaces the structure, but it brings a level of technology into the facility that didn’t exist in 1959. Each area of the ¼ mile-long structure will boast a dedicated space for the instructional materials being taught. Science labs will have gas for burners, the Junior ROTC cadets will have an indoor airsoft range to practice in, the fine arts section includes dressing rooms and practice rooms for musicians, the stage is being constructed with all the rigging for lights, props and curtains, there is space for the agricultural sciences, journalists and mathematicians who will spend some of their learning career in the new school. There are common areas reminiscent of college campuses and private glass-walled rooms for study and guidance sessions.
The new school will provide area students with facilities that are hard to match.
“This will be a high school unlike any military kid has seen before,” Harris said. “When you want to talk about bringing in the latest and greatest technology, you want to talk about bringing in the ability to have, you know, a world-class facility to conduct sports and to do fitness, really just to educate and learn - I don't think they're going find anything like this near any other military installation period.”
Construction began in April of 2019 and the project is planned for completion this summer. Teachers will get to enter the building beginning Aug. 4 and the students will start the first day of class Aug. 11.
Harris, who has a son in high school thinks this state-of-the-art facility will be an asset to his family as well as others in the area
“I think it's important … whether it's a Fort Riley, or a local student from Junction City,” Harris said. “Providing the best facility to get education matters, period. You know our students, our military students, will definitely benefit from this, but the benefit is not just for them; it's for every child that's going to come to this high school … that's what it's really about. It's about educating all of our students and our young children.”