Pottawatomie County -- They were once a small rural school, but the Rock Creek Jr. and Sr. High School that began as a 1-A school little more than 20 years ago has grown to 4-A status. In response to the explosive growth, the school is opening new and improved academic and athletic facilities.
"When they built this place in 1991 they kind of projected it as a 2A school, and here we are a large 3A and now on the verge of 4A," RCJSHS Vice Principal Scott Harshbarger explained. He also serves as the schools' athletic director.
Rock Creek is no longer the only option students have; it's now the place to go according to student athlete Jacy Johnston.
"Just to see the community grow and especially our school grow because of how well our staff and our superintendent and our academic advisors work for us to see how people want to come here," she said.
Johnston says students are thankful for the community's support in passing the bond that's paying for four and a half million dollars in improvements. She assures them it won't be taken for granted.
"It's just opening a lot more doors for our school," Johnston told Kansas First News.
Walk in the front doors and the first thing you'll see is a renovated lobby and concession area. Just beyond these doors is the main gym.
"Most of the teams we play would pack this house and people would be standing in the aisles," Harshbarger said of the venue.
Now, everyone can be seated comfortably in brand new, expanded bleachers. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and a newly finished floor await. The adjacent strength and conditioning building is set to be completed this school year.
While the bulk of the improvements are to the athletic facilities, three new classrooms are being built to accommodate a growing student body. The school expects the classroom additions to be completed by the start of next school year. The superintendent says that's going to be just in time. With all of the growth around St. George he says they're going to need the extra space.
Then there's what many consider to be the crown jewel of Rock Creek: the football stadium. There seating was also an issue. In 2009 they had to play the quarter finals at bishop stadium in Manhattan, losing their home field advantage. New bleachers have more than tripled the seating from 900 to 3,000. A new press box and re-paved track round out the stadium improvements.
"Now we feel like we are a very proud member of the 4-A status facility wise," Harshbarger said.
Mr. Harshbarger says 82% of the student body is involved in extra-curricular activities--many of them as student athletes. He feels the community can be confident that their money was well spent. Harshbarger believes the district was frugal but didn't cut any corners.
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