Southside readies new high school building for students

SOUTHSIDE, AR (KAIT) – School starts in less than a month,and the students at Southside High School will begin the new school year in abrand new building.

The contractor handed over the keys this week to the newhigh school, so the teachers and staff members are in the middle of a move.They're trying to get everything ready before school starts on August 19, butthere's more work to come.

The new high school features two state-of-the-art sciencelabs and eight classrooms that will primarily be used by the juniors andseniors this school year.

"What I like the most about it is the fact we have a nice,up-to-date facility for the students to come and academically be engaged," saidRoger Ried, the high school principal. "It's just fantastic, so if it's notfocused on academics, it's probably not worth saying and everything in thisbuilding is focused on academics."

The project cost the district more than $3 million. Riedsays the district could afford to spend that much because of money provided bya partnership with the state and funds smartly set aside each year by thesuperintendent and school board.

"To be able to set that aside for this project and not haveto go back to the patrons asking for a millage, I think that speaks volumes,"Ried said.

The former high school building will still house thefreshmen and sophomores for the upcoming school year. The 10th gradeclass will not likely move into the new facility until the 2014-2015 schoolyear because crews have to add on another wing with 16 more classrooms to makeroom for them. Plans have also called for building an 850-seat auditorium onthe south side of the new facility that will provide the students with aprofessional space to host musical productions.

Ried says the school board also made sure the new facilityincluded a nod to its past, which visitors can see on accent walls in theentryway and front office.

"As you enter, you have the original high school buildingwith its wooden planks with the stone that was on the outside," Ried said, "andit's been set up in the foyer area as a good transition from the past, to thepresent, to the future."

Before schools starts in August, contractors also have topour the pavement for the parking lot and driveway to the new high school. Ried,however, would like to assure everyone that that task will not take long.

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