BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — With the calendar page turning to August, many families will soon turn their attention to back to school.
In the Brandon Valley School District, the new year means the opening of a new addition to the high school.
As the marching band learns this year’s routine, the east side of Brandon Valley High School is unusually quiet as construction winds down on a 35,000-square-foot expansion project.
“This addition will lead us for years into the future, decades I would say, in terms of space for students,” Brandon Valley Superintendent Jarod Larson said.
The new addition includes 22 classrooms and three conference rooms.
“Our priorities were really very simple when the project started, number one was general classroom space, number two was ground floor special education space, and then obviously some specialized science,” Larson said.
“We were running out of space at the high school here and so we knew we needed to put an addition on so we talked about a lot of different options and it made the most sense to go off the east side,” Brandon Valley Principal Mark Schlekeway said.
High School Principal Mark Schlekeway says the new space also features smart rooms as part of a collaboration with Southeast Technical College.
“Professor might be in a different location and if I start speaking, like if I’m speaking in that classroom at this point one of the cameras in that room will zoom in on me and it will pick up my voice like I’m in the classroom at Southeast Technical College,” Schlekeway said.
“They’re like providing a lot more scientific classes that more students are able to enhance their educational experience,” Brandon Valley senior Ian Candy said.
Candy is entering his senior year at Brandon Valley.
“I’m really just excited to have a bit more room to kind of breathe more because the hallways have been pretty cramped the past few years,” Candy said.
Brandon Valley had more than 1,300 students last year and a capacity of 1,400. The expansion project will increase that number to about 2,000 for a district with an expanding population.
“It’s been exponentially increasing over these past few years, especially with Sioux Falls also growing, a lot of people are coming from Sioux Falls into Brandon, so it’s good to continue to build our community around that,” Candy said.
“We paid for the project entirely out of capital outlay cash reserves, approximately $10-million project overall, that resulted in no additional tax burden on our patrons,” Larson said.
“Our students and staff are going to benefit from that and it’s vital for our success in the future as we look to expand programs, as we look to enhance the learning environment for our students,” Schlekeway said.
One of the final steps in this project will be the addition of an athletic running surface in this hallway, paid for by the booster club.
“Growth can be challenging but we’re excited to grow and we’re excited to open the space,” Schlekeway said.
A space that screams Brandon Valley.
“It’s black and red and most certainly lets every single one of our students that walk through the door know that they are part of our Lynx family,” Larson said.
And the kids are eager to see the finished product.
“They’re chomping at the bit. We actually had to put some barriers up because everybody wants to see it, but they’re going to love the end product. It’s going to be something that we’ll cherish and certainly value moving forward,” Schlekeway said.
Even if back to school marks the unofficial end of summer.
“I’m ready (laugh),” Candy said.
The first day of school at Brandon Valley is Wednesday, August 23rd, but students will have an opportunity to walk through the new addition in the coming weeks.