COLUMBUS — The first nine weeks after the new Columbus High School opened its doors to students and the public were a blur of activity — from a March 20 ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew kind words from Gov. Pete Ricketts to the first class of Discoverers to walk across the graduation stage on May 21.
Now comes the nuts and bolts of settling into the $52 million, 270,000-square-foot school — the little tweaks and larger chores that need to get done before classes resume this fall.
“The last two months of the school year went really, really fast,” longtime Principal Steve Woodside said this week. “The staff and students graciously accepted the challenge.”
The transition to the new school began March 10 with the final move of items from the old high school, followed in rapid-fire succession by the beginning of classes at the new school, prom, graduation and the start of summer school earlier this week.
“We understood there were going to be hiccups along the way, there always are in a new building,” said Woodside, noting that Kearney officials had a to-do list of 400 items to address after their new high school opened.
There are been predictable construction issues set for summer tweaks, such as adjustments to some doors, and routine maintenance such as putting two or three coats of wax on corridors. School officials will also be looking for ways to make the cafeteria traffic flow more efficiently.
“That’s kind of par for the course,” Woodside said. “Those are just little things. It’s really cosmetic, fine-tuning stuff.”
The biggest punch to the high school’s end-of-the-year push was probably delivered by Mother Nature, a couple-week period in April when thunderstorms dumped more than 6 inches of rainfall on the CHS campus near 33rd Avenue and Lost Creek Parkway.
The drenching rains led to a slowdown in getting the campus sprinkling system rolling before graduation.
“The exterior weather conditions put us behind in laying down sod and other landscaping prior to graduation,” said Leonard Kwapnioski, executive director of technology and operations for Columbus Public Schools.
Kwapnioski said sod placement is about done and the trees, shrubs and other landscaping will take shape for years to come.
“It’s the odds and ends we need to touch up (at the new school),” Kwapnioski said. “We’re putting lipstick on the school.”
Custodial crews will also spend time this summer polishing the commons entrance and cafeteria areas and shampooing hallway carpets.
The new school is about 35,000 square feet larger than the old high school, providing enough space for approximately 1,400 students. The new CHS has 79 classrooms, up from 64 at the former building.
The old Columbus High along 26th Street, which is currently being modified to fit a fifth- to eighth-grade configuration, is expected to being ready for middle schoolers in September.