Tom Morton, Townsquare Media
Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

With the snip of some very long scissors on a very green ribbon, the Natrona County School District board of trustees dedicated the almost new $86.3 million Kelly Walsh High School building Monday.

"It's going to be a huge change for us all," KWHS principal Brad Diller said after the ceremony held in the atrium in the building's east side.

Nearly all the old building is gone or going. Demolition continues immediately north of the Diller's office.

The theater and the pool are the only major remnants of the old building, and both are undergoing major renovations, he said.

While construction crews moved the first dirt on the project three years ago, Diller said discussions about a massive renovation or a new building had been going on for more than a decade.

The new building incorporates access, technology and ideas that would have seemed unreal 21 years ago when he arrived at the school, and incomprehensible 40 years ago when he was just out of high school himself.

"Forty years ago, you sat in a classroom in a row and did stuff," Diller said.

In 1995, the internet was the new thing and he was hauling around blue wire for connectivity, he said. "Now the trend is toward wireless."

Over the decades, Diller said schools have implemented the requirements of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

That means far more girls sports activities requiring more facilities and more gym usage, he said. Those and the expansive athletic fields to the west of the new building mean more practice times for more students and therefore less time taken away from home.

Ten years ago, the demands on classroom space at KWHS increased when the school added freshmen to the student body. Before that, they were at the junior high schools, Diller said.

Those numbers get somewhat more complicated because the new school is designed for 1,570 students but the 2016-2017 enrollment probably will be about 1,800, he said.

Those numbers appear to be holding steady despite the economic downturn, Diller said. "We haven't had a flood of requests for transcripts."

However, not all KWHS students will be in the building at the same time, Diller said.

Some of them will be attending the new Roosevelt High School/ P.I.C. (Pathways Innovation Center) on Casper's west side for part of the day.

And others will go to Casper College for classes in the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) program, he said.

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