Residents who haven’t been inside Manhattan High School for several years are in for a treat when they finally go back. It just so happens that a wonderful opportunity comes Thursday afternoon and evening when the high school — the flagship school of the Manhattan-Ogden School District — will welcome visitors for an open house and dedication ceremony.
The “new” high school is modern and beautiful inside and out. No less important, its open feel contributes to an even better learning environment. For the roughly $44 million investment, the facility certainly ought to accommodate teaching and learning.
Those goals become more likely when, as was the case with MHS, the construction team worked closely with a volunteer committee whose members included representatives from all of the school’s departments. The groups met regularly and collaborated from early in the design stages through the entire project, making changes along the way to make the school more aesthetically pleasing, efficient and user-friendly. MHS might not be quite made to order, but it’s pretty close.
Visitors will be able to wander around the hallways from 4:30 to 7 p.m., and a short ceremony will be held in the north gym at 5:30 p.m. All the classrooms will be open, and although the faculty is not required to be present, plenty of teachers and administrators will be on hand to answer questions and note some of the changes. They’ll be wearing bright reds shirts for the occasion. Also present will be the MHS band, choirs, StuCo members, culinary arts students and tasty refreshments. Some of the individuals who did the actual work also will be there.
Among the conspicuous changes are vast improvements in the courtyards. They have new furniture and landscaping and are popular gathering spots for students during lunch. Natural woodwork in the commons area provides a striking accent and is just one factor making the commons, for years a gloomy space, much more pleasant. Moving the library, which had been almost hidden away, to the commons area makes the library the focal point it ought to be in an academic setting.
The overall academic setting isn’t just better, it’s also bigger. Second floors and basements have been added to both D and E halls, and they’re longer as well. And with upgraded heating, ventilation and electrical systems, the high school is much more energy efficient.
That the building’s exterior has been dressed up is clear to anyone who has walked or driven by. Manhattan High School looks sharp, no question. But the real improvements are inside, and they’re apparent the instant you walk in the front door.
Take a look Thursday afternoon.