New addition opens at Walnut Ridge High School

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT)- The new addition to the Walnut Ridge High School opened it's doors last Friday. Students are really enjoying their new bobcat den.

Allison Bridges, "I was speechless." and Brittney Pinkston, "I was amazed at how nice this facility was." shared their reaction at going into the new building for the first time.

Principal Mark Manchester said the students reaction has been amazing.

Manchester, "I had one 8th grade boy in the band room the first day we were in there come up to me and he said; "Mr. Manchester, I knew this was nice but I didn't have any idea how nice it was."

At the hall way where the new part begins I asked Superintendent Terry Belcher what was up the hallway. "1958" he said with a grin.

The two new science labs were practically hand designed by the teachers according to Belcher.

Belcher said that, "Each teacher had an input on where they wanted cabinets, electrical outlets and things they wanted in each classroom." In between the new labs is a storage lab prep room. Students told me the labs were on par with a college.

There are three new math classrooms, all equipped with Smart Technology and other changes Principal Manchester pointed out.

"We've gone from the old fashioned chair and desk format to more of a table format to try and increase collaborative learning and let kids feel like they aren't on their own."

The Art Department really expanded with much needed studio space, a kiln and sinks and art desks that raise up to become easels. Display cases in the hall feature works by students. There are thin ones for painting and math works and larger display cabinets for pottery and larger art works.

In the band and choir rooms the lights hang in acoustic "clouds" with sand filled walls and energy efficiency all the way through.

Belcher, "The sinks are automatic, the toilets flush automatic, the lights come on in automatic. Same with the heat and air, it's all controlled and set by computer. We're hoping this will save us on utilities."

The new training room resembles a professional gym on a small scale. Not only did it have weights and bikes and other exercise equipment, but cable TV too.

The biggest addition is the P.E. complex. 40 yards of astroturf, softball cages and air conditioning. Junior Ryan Vaughn said he feels like he's in a much bigger high school now.

"I feel like we're gonna be asked a lots more in sports cause this is gonna give us more of an opportunity." Vaughn said. The big room has roll up doors that allow direct access to the football field. Plans are in place to move bleachers and build a new press box and make the West side the home side.

Brittney and Allison said this new facility was a big improvement.

"Before we were outside on the track or we were in the gym." Brittney is a cheerleader and Allison plays softball. " For softball we had to drive all the way to Pocahontas to use the batting cages there. So now we can just walk through the school grounds."

Principal Manchester said it was all done for the betterment of their students.

Manchester, "We want those kids to have the very best facilities that they could possibly have to be able to do the very best job they can."

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