The time for a high school in the Valley has come and gone, and I feel we should finally get the job done.
When JDHS was built, it was not designed to be continually enlarged in order to cram more students into it. Until the new renovation, the "student" part of the building has gotten lost. It is no longer a place to learn while also enjoying your time there, as my daughters did in the 1960s.
During my 1966-72 school board years, we always knew there would some day be a second high school in the Valley, once we got all the needed elementary and middle schools. And it seems we have reached that point.
As my nieces and nephews went through in the early 1970s, it was still enjoyable and accommodating for students. However, when my grandchildren were there in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the school was not an enjoyable facility but a place to learn whatever you possibly could in four years and get a diploma. Those were times of crowded classrooms, no real extracurricular spaces, no hot lunches and no real concern for the students' needs during their four years there.
We are now 10 years further down the road and it seems things have only gotten worse. Students are no longer the primary emphasis in our high school. No wonder special programs were then needed for many students who could not function or learn in such an atmosphere. High schools could and should be one of the most enjoyable times of a person's education, where lifelong friendships are made and kids learn how to become responsible adults. That is not possible with 1,700 students crowded together like cattle. Why should we treat our kids that way?
I have a great grandchild headed to high school in a couple years, and two more will be there in another 10 years. I want them to be able to enjoy high school as I did in the 1940s in our old J-High on Fifth Street. It won't be the same as a high school with a total of 276 kids in all fours grades, because we were like a big family. But at least it will be an improvement over 1,700. And having two high schools was not a problem then, as we enjoyed our rivalry with Douglas High School, which continues even today.
I therefore urge support of the coming bond issues, and if you don't think we need a new Valley high school, just ask a current student. And cost-wise, there will never be a better time to finance this.
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