Agua Fria High School District Break Ground on Fifth High School

Chase Hunter, VHS Writer

The ground-breaking ceremony by Agua Fria High School District’s new, fifth high school took place on West Bethany Home Road on Thursday, January 12. The new high school does not have a name yet, but is being referred to as High School #5 by members of the educational board and seeks to be the most innovative and technologically advanced of any high school in the district.

High School #5: Members of the Agua Fria Educational Board break the ceremonial ground on the upcoming high school. It will be 230,000 square feet and feature designs taken from innovative high schools in Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego.
Photo taken by Chase Hunter

The Agua Fria district is one of the fastest growing areas in the United States. The number of students has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. And in the past four years at Verrado, each incoming freshman class has broken the record for largest class. In an effort to help address the growing student population, the education board members fought to pass a bond to fund the building of the new school.

“Every school will benefit with the addition of high school five,” said superintendent, Dr. Dennis Runyan. The greatest relief will be felt by Millennium and Verrado high school due to their close proximity and overpopulated schools.

The school will house an estimated 1800 students when fully implemented to help ease the overflow of students from other schools. Currently, the district is over capacity on students at every high school and for four consecutive years.

Also, in an effort to keep up with the times Executive Officer of Operations and Safety, Tom Huffman, addressed the group of reporters stating, “we need to build a different type of high school.”

“We traveled to Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego to look at designs to use for high school five,” Huffman went on. With a changing world, high schools need to change along with it. The Chasse Building Team mulled over the designs with the board members as well as teachers within the district to form the most integrated design possible.

“The people at Chasse truly build a team that supports the community,” said Runyan and the project was “very personalized.”

In order to have the school ready for the Fall semester of 2018, 250-300 workers will be cutting, nailing, and drilling on the project per day for the next year and a half.

High school #5 will feature an agora, a Greek word meaning a public open space used for assemblies and markets, and area that will be called the Accelerator. The Accelerator will be use as an innovation lounge for science, technology, engineering, and math endeavours.

The 230,000 square foot school will rival Verrado High School as most green. The roof will be topped with hundreds of solar panels.

The massive building project of High School #5 will include $5.9 million in construction for roads to support the hundreds of students expected to come every morning. The only way to the building site is West Bethany Home Road currently. Streets will be built along the adjacent neighborhoods to help bus traffic.

The planned completion date for the project is July 2018, but there are a few issues that could interfere with the plan. The board is still waiting for some permits to pass before the school can rise from the ground. The actual building will wait until they are passed.

Another setback may be the weather. Huffman assured the Times that this was an unlikely scenario, however.

The final issue could be the bus routes. Millennium and Verrado start at 7:05am and 8:05am, respectively. The limited number of busses can only run one school’s students at a time. This means that either more busses will be required or a later start time will have to be conceived.  Runyan expressed this as one of the most concerning issues with the upcoming school.

There are 26 applicants for principal of the new school so far, with more expected as the school gets closer to completion.

Runyan spoke of the monolithic ambitions for the new high school saying, “it’s your dream, it’s our dream, it’s their dream,” gesturing to students in the crowd. Many, from the builders to the school board to the future students, have ambitious expectations for High School #5. Now to work on a name…

Agua Fria Union High School District posted this video on their website to show an animated overview of the completed school: https://youtu.be/QcbZsBReRgo