TRISD Superintendent Kenneth Rohrbach said the technological advancements of the new building aren’t limited to the bricks, mortar and hard-wiring, but expands into the classrooms as well, since TRHS is in the process of phasing out textbooks entirely. Within the next six weeks every student will have an iPad; more than 300 have been ordered so far.
“We are prepping kids for the futures they will graduate into,” Rohrbach said.
In addition to being designed smartly, the building is also designed for safety. Entrance to the building can only be done via card passes, as all locks are electronic, making unauthorized entry extremely unlikely.
“The thing I like best is everything is under one roof instead of five or six separate buildings,” Rohrbach said. “I think back when they built the old building, they said add a building here and there; it made it hard to run a school when we had kids running all over the place.”
The $11,185,000 bond to build the new school was passed in November 2010, making the new high school a three-year project. The first year consisted mostly of planning and testing; ground was broken in August 2011, and construction finished about two years later.
“For a while, I was wondering if we would ever get done,” Rohrbach said. “This was the first project I was given by the board. I had no idea how to pass a bond or build a school, so I have learned.”
Rohrbach said the district is on a 20-year payoff plan but anticipates paying off the building before that time is up.
A few minor details are left before the building is totally complete such as floor tiles not perfectly centered; some paint needs touching up, and some minor work needed to be done on the ceramic counter tops.
The first day also presented some unexpected surprises with the air conditioning. Rohrbach said it was cool enough inside to use classrooms as meat lockers.
Rohrbach said the building should be completely done in the next month, and the majority of the work will be done during the evenings and weekends, so classwork won’t be disturbed.
“A new building changes attitudes,” Rohrbach said.
An assembly was held at the beginning of the first day of school before turning the students loose inside. Signs were also set up throughout the building to direct students to their new classrooms. Rohrbach said as the day went by the students were getting better at finding their way around the new building.
“It’s awesome; the kids are just floored by how pretty it is,” Rohrbach said. “It has been fun to watch kids wander through it today and be lost. There are a lot of smiles down there, and everyone seems happy.”
Enrollment numbers weren’t ready in time for press, but according to Rohrbach, there were a lot of new students present throughout the first day of school.
“It’s great; the kids really enjoy it,” TRHS Principal Charles Odom said. “There’s air conditioning. It’s nice; everything is new. It’s a 21st century building.”
Odom said it was a smooth transition from the old building and into the new one.
Although school is already in session, the ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Sept. 21 at 9:30 a.m.