SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO)– Sioux Falls’ Jefferson High School has come a long way in just two years, including its ability to establish successful sports and extracurricular programs.
Starting at a new school can be daunting for anyone. But that didn’t stop students and staff at Jefferson High School.
“We truly wanted it to be a place where all means all,” said Dan Conrad, Principal of Jefferson High School.
Jefferson was built two years ago becoming the newest school in the Sioux Falls School District.
“At first I was kind of reluctant to come over here because I created so many relationships and roots at Roosevelt High School but there was also a hint of excitement that fostered into something more. It fostered into school spirit that we created here,” said Andrew Nguyen, senior.
“I felt like it was such a cool opportunity to be able to start something from scratch and collaborate with a group of future leaders on what we hoped a building could look like,” said Jillian Thomas, English Department Chair.
Creating a unique opportunity for staff and students to come together and start something new.
“You are always creating that system or structure, and you get to create it with student input, you create it with staff input, you get to create it with parent input to say what do we truly want this to be like?” Conrad said.
The school is made up over 1,300 students that came from Roosevelt, Washington, Lincoln and New Tech.
“The benefit of being a new school on the athletic side or academic side is we were able to take the best parts of all of the schools and put them together and start to define what Jefferson is,” said Ed Whiting, Social Studies Department Chair.
And staff from 20 different schools around South Dakota.
“A lot of us coming from different schools, different backgrounds, different years of experience, coming together and putting that together to use to create something is really cool,” Thomas said.
Many of the programs and extra-curricular activities at Jefferson were created by students, like Andrew Nguyen.
“Students were uncertain about coming to Jefferson High School and coming to a new school and meeting new people, so I wanted to create as many clubs as possible so everybody could have a place where they felt like they belonged and could explore interests,” Nguyen said.
Which Senior Alexis Gross says will lead the way for future students.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth in clubs and a lot of people who weren’t involved in things in previous schools that are now involved in a lot of activities,” said Alexis Gross, senior.
Now in its second year, students and teachers at Jefferson say they starting to find their way as Cavaliers.
“The people are really what make Jefferson, Jefferson, they are all so nice, kind, involving and it’s really genuine here,” said Aniya Bulter, senior.
“I just feel like there is more community here since it is the second year, people feel like it’s a normal school and not just ‘oh it’s our first this, our first that. It’s our second one so it feels more real,'” Gross said.
“Initially in the first year you are still navigating that unknown, you have your background that you bring to the new place, but this year it has felt like the culture has really been embraced by staff and students, and people are really figuring out what makes us Jefferson,” Thomas said.
And they are looking at what comes next for the students and the school.
“When you look forward two years, you’re gonna see a place that has a lot of activities, a lot of clubs, you’re going to see kids accepting of one another, you’re going to see staff accepting of one another saying what can we do to help?” Conrad said.
Jefferson High School opened in the Fall of 2021.