SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – In exactly two years from its groundbreaking in June 2019, Thomas Jefferson High School will officially open to students. It’s made huge progress in under two years, so much so, that the district cant wait to give families a sneak peek inside.
Before it opens this summer, Jefferson High School Principal Dan Conrad is giving a virtual tour of the nearly completed school.
“When you walk into the gym for the first time and you stand on that two-lane track and you overlook the bowl: a stadium-style gym, and you think about all the things we can host whether it’s a show choir event, whether it’s a competition: volleyball, basketball, whatever it may be in that gym, you just think about the sounds,” Conrad said.
To know what made him the right man for the job, he’d have to take you back through 23 years of experience with the Sioux Falls School District.
“So, now I’ve seen Roosevelt as a kid – first year opening it up, 11 years at Lincoln, 11 years at Washington, the first year at Jefferson” Conrad said.
He says throughout the years, this school year has brought the most change, but that this school will be a more positive one. He says a unique feature of the school is that there are windows in every classroom.
“As we look to do things differently inside of a school, we have learning stairs, which hasn’t been done before, to say, ‘how do we provide opportunities during the school day to help kids take care of that social-emotional aspect,” Conrad said.
School Board President Cynthia Mickelson says it is designed to have a very open and communal floor plan.
“Currently, you know, all our high schools – basically, it’s a few stories, there are hallways and those are called different ‘wings’; this actually has five pods going off of it,” Mickelson said.
One of those pods is the Jefferson High Project Base Learning Academy – which was formerly known as New Tech High School.
“It’s not going to be a high school within a high school, it’s going to be a program and it’s still going to be delivered in the same format kids experience it today,” Conrad said.
Their auditorium will be able to hold over 900 students and also has two balconies. Come fall of 2021, between 14 and 15-hundred students will be enrolled in classes. Mickelson says that the School District will be learning some things as well.
“What we learn at that building might be better and we’re going to take that to our other buildings and just keep working to improve ourselves as a district,” Mickelson said.