Construction on the new Junction City High School has passed the halfway point and remains on track for the anticipated 2021 opening.
Several groups have toured the building over the past few weeks. With more than half of the students who attend JCHS having one or more parents serving at Fort Riley, members of the Military Affairs Council were among those interested in seeing the progress.
Joining the MAC for their Oct. 21 tour was former commander of the 1st Infantry Division retired Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins who is now the executive director of the Kansas Governor’s Military Council.
“From a military perspective, the majority of our force is married and they have children,” he said. “A lot of the decision on where they want to be stationed are focused around the schools.”
He recalled when he was active duty and would arrive at a new duty station his wife would hand him a map with a school circled. She told him it was his mission was to find a home where his children could go to that school, he said.
After touring the facility, he described what he saw as a “gem.”
“It will have an impact with our soldiers and their families wanting to come to the region,” Wiggins said. “It will be a gem not only for our state, our region and Geary County — I think it will be a gem for our military as well.”
Maj. Russ Brown, with the 1st Infantry Division, said the project shows the community’s commitment to the military and Fort Riley students.
“It is truly amazing the effort and the thoughtfulness that went into the design and I think it’s going to serve the students from the Fort Riley community well for many years to come,” he said.
Having confidence in the school system they will send their children to is imperative for military parents whose children are changing schools every few years, he said.
“We want parents — soldiers — to know their children are being well taken care of,” Brown said. “Facilities like this truly shows the community has a vested interest in the education of our military children.”
David Wild, Unified School District 475 chief operating officer, said in a written report that the roofing over the academy academic and shop class areas are nearly complete. Additionally, the interior walls are going up and work on the ceiling grids and epoxy flooring has started.
“(We are) anticipating the first of these areas to be completed right after the Christmas holidays,” he said.
Other progress includes:
Continuing to frame and fireproof the front office, entrance and auditorium areas.
Tilt-up wall panels for the auxiliary gymnasium are up and joists are being placed.
The visitors side bleachers at the current high school will be removed and repurposed as visitor bleachers at the new school immediately after Thanksgiving.
Scoreboards are currently in shop production phase. Scoreboard foundations and support structures are being engineered.
Initial placement of asphalt is completed. A final two-inch overlay will be placed in all asphalted areas and striping finalized at the end of the project.
An inventory of existing high school equipment and furniture is underway. Decisions regarding what will be moved into the school will be made in the coming weeks.
Furniture design and placement for the common areas is underway as are final interior color schemes and signage decisions.
A security camera placement plan is now completed and is to be prioritized and priced.
Natural gas line is being placed and will be connected to the facility in the next couple of weeks.
Weather permitting, Blue Jay Way completion is expected within 90 days.