A few of the many K-State graduates from 1963 through 2019 who are involved in construction of the new Junction City High School pose for a physically distanced group photo Thursday.

From the early planning stages through nearly every part of is progression Kansas State University graduates are contributing to the new Junction City High School.

USD 475 Operations Officer David Wild said in the early phases of the project he started to notice how many people he spoke with were K-State graduates.

“It struck me during design development of the project … the number of K-State graduates that were involved with the architects,” he said. “As we continued to move forward with Hutton Construction being selected as the … general contractor, again another team heavy with K-State graduates from the construction science program.”

The theme repeated when the subcontractors came on board, he said. He started asking around and discovered there are many K-State graduating classes represented in this one project including himself, a 1981 graduate; Scott Clark, head of security, class of 1985; and Jim Schmidt who is a USD 475 board member and sits on the construction committee.

On the two ends of the spectrum are another USD 475 board member and construction committee member, David Walker, who graduated from the business college in 1963 and Dawson Borcherding, field engineer with Hutton who earned his diploma from the College of Engineering in December 2019.

Walker was also in the first graduating class from what is now the old JCHS. He recalled it took a couple of years to complete construction and the building wasn’t nearly as large as the new one is.

The two spoke of the differences in tackling a project like the new school today as compared to when Walker graduated — going from using slide rules to computers.

“What I've seen on this project is the computer-generated details that allow for the construction to happen faster and more accurately,” Walker said. “Everything's built off site brought in, put in place, and it all fits, then it's all computer-generated — laser fit. That's the biggest change that I've seen in construction over the last 50 years.”

In contemplating the changes in the industry, Borcherding said he thinks one of the challenges in years past would have been the need for more field coordination.

“All of this would be based off of the paper plans,” Borcherding said. “But now it's all drawn on computers off site. It's all fabricated in air-conditioned warehouses and fabrication shops and then it's brought out here and simply raised into a section.”

Walker said he would never want to see construction go back to the way it was.

“It's just so much more efficient now,” he said. “Even though the costs are a lot higher, I think the efficiency makes it more economical.”

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