During the first day of school, students catch up with their friends. They might exchange summer stories or comment on each other’s changed appearance.
The priorities were a little different Wednesday at Manhattan High, where junior Phoebe Crusch simply wanted to find her art class. The five-minute passing period ended, second period started, and Crusch was lost. She said it had never taken her so long to find a class.
“It’s so confusing because I couldn’t make it to open house,” Crusch said.
She wasn’t alone. MHS, which underwent much renovation this summer, opened its new halls, closed two other halls, and unveiled a new front entrance and administration area Wednesday. For many students, the initial reaction was confusion as they tried to navigate their way to class.
Crusch approached faculty members to get directions. A woman among the trio had the most confidence to tell Crusch where to go.
In the midst of her odyssey, Crusch said the renovation “looks really nice … I think people will really enjoy it once they figure it out.”
But as she spoke, Crusch still hadn’t figured out the way to her next destination. “It shouldn’t be this hard,” she said to herself.
More than ten minutes into the start of second period, Crusch finally found her classroom.
Other students had similar problems.
Desch Montoya, a junior, said he got used to the old design last year. “It’s like a maze,” Montoya said. “It’s cool and all, but I liked the old school better personally.”
Emmianne Jagosz, another a junior, also experienced the first day maze, but said she liked the cleaned up appearance of the school. “It’s a little confusing walking around, but it’s fun,” she said. “Everything is a new experience.”
Even newcomers had their opinions. “I think it’s a great improvement to the school,” said Kyle Curtis, a sophomore. “I’m personally glad I could get lost in this school first rather than learn the old one.”
Despite confusion with the new surroundings, the feedback has been positive about the new changes.
Principal Terry McCarty said he heard from many community members Tuesday during a “packed” open house. “We had people up here that didn’t even have kids in high school,” he said.
McCarty said people liked the openness of the school and the increase in natural light from the windows. He said he could tell from the looks in the students’ eyes that they enjoyed it.
McCarty is a fan of his new office, which sits at the front of the school and allows him to look outside without anyone being able to see inside. The old administrative office was accessed by walking up the steps after entering the school.
“I don’t want to be in the back or the middle of the building,” he said. “I want to be in the front to catch everything that’s going on.”
The excitement about the new building was apparent Wednesday, but the temporary construction walls and construction equipment also showed that MHS is still a work in progress. Renovations are scheduled to take place through next summer with all areas finished for the 2012-13 school year.
McCarty said every teacher will have their own classroom space once the building is fully completed, which he thinks is a big deal.
“For me, that helps to respect the integrity of the teacher,” he said. “You won’t have someone else coming in during breaks or teachers going from classroom to classroom.”
The cafeteria is to open in the middle of the first semester, the new library is to be ready by Thanksgiving, and A and B halls will be completed by semester’s end.
Kyler Schroller, junior, said he thinks it’s smaller without everything open. But he liked what he saw of the available areas, including the new halls, commons and entrance.
“It looks like a really expensive school,” Schroller said. “Like, I go here.”