It’s the largest school in the state of South Dakota, and it’s only expected to get more crowded.
Roosevelt High School is built to hold 1,800 students. At the beginning of the school year, it had more than 2,200 students.
To give you some perspective: that’s like squeezing every person in the town of Lennox or Fort Pierre into the same building. Remember enrollment doesn’t include teachers, administrators, and other staff members.
The principal at Roosevelt says it is so crowded largely because it has one of the largest portions of the city in its boundary. When the school first opened in 1991, not as many people lived in the west side of town.
Since then, 75,000 people have moved to town and Roosevelt has had to make some adjustments.
“A lot of small communities, especially around here, you kind of know everybody,” Roosevelt Senior Tristan Marquardt said.
At Roosevelt High School, it’s impossible for everyone to know everyone.
“I know such a small fraction of my graduating class, it’s crazy. I meet new people every day,” Marquardt said.
“When it started, I know there was around 1,100 kids here. Since the time the school was started, that number has grown to about 2,300,” Roosevelt Principal Tim Hazlett said.
Principal Hazlett says in his seven years as principal at Roosevelt High School, the school has grown by almost 400 students in total enrollment.
That many kids create problems.
“For one, there’s a lot of people. It’s hard to get everywhere. The parking lot sucks,” Marquardt said.
But with those problems come creative solutions.
“And never let the numbers be an excuse, oh ‘we can’t do this anymore, we’re too big,’ we’re going to find a solution, and still create that culture you want in a school,” Hazlett said.
One solution involves sending students off campus to the Career Tech Education center.
Tristan Marquardt is a student at CTE.
“I’m taking digital music right now out there, and that’s not something I could do in a small town, if I went to a small school,” Marquardt said.
In his Creative Writing class, he’s writing songs.
Hazlett says if enrollment continues to grow, the school may have to look at adding modular classrooms or having auditorium-style classes.
In the meantime, while everyone may not know everyone, these students are still finding a way to find their voices.
A school district task force has decided the city needs a new high school and middle school. Members want them built and ready for students by 2022, if not sooner.
Find more information on the task force for Sioux Falls School District here.