Personal space does not exist during passing period at Greeley West High School.
After 54 years, Greeley West High School will get a new building. The new building will be built on the same site as the old one, on 35th Avenue and 24th Street, and will open in the fall of 2022.
Greeley West is one many schools to benefit from a voter-approved bond measure. The community voted yes for the $395 million bond, which will fund many District 6 projects. The measure passed with 54.54% of the vote.
Greeley West High School was built in the 1960s. The world has changed since then. The world is no longer in a Cold War, and Greeley’s population has grown exponentially since then. But Greeley West was lagging behind. Students make fun of the lack of windows stemming from a fear of a nuclear attack during the Cold War. The school was also not built to house as many students as it does. Greeley West has over 1,800 students, too many for the building to handle. Classrooms are small, dimly lit and overcrowded. The rest of the school is too.
Greeley West is shaped like a hexagon, with 7 hallways and the main center meeting in the middle, which is referred to as “the Hub.” This means that there can be over 1,000 students trying to get to their next class, pushing through a small space. The unofficial rule while navigating the Hub is “push, or be pushed.” There are outside doors that lead to the hallways, but they can be inconvenient to students walking long distances or when it gets cold. Greeley West has added many outbuildings to provide more space and classrooms, but the school is still too small. The rebuild is going to change all this.
The current building is 120,000 square feet, including the outbuildings. The rebuild will be 280,000 square feet, more than double the current size of the school. The hallways will be expanded, and students will no longer need to push through a sea of students to get to their classes.
“We’re not gonna know what to do with all this space,” said Jeff Cranson, principal of Greeley West.
Cranson said that he hopes the rebuild will meet the demands of the students and give them the support they need to succeed. Cranson said that Greeley West students do their best but have an underdog mentality. Greeley West students will travel to other schools for sports or art events and realize that their own school is lagging behind. Other schools may have better uniforms, better instruments, better facilities and better morale. Greeley West does not have the same utilities as other highly funded schools, but the rebuild will rid students of feeling like the underdogs.
Tom Nugent, the orchestra teacher at Greeley West High School, said that teachers and students have had to get creative with the building. Many rooms in the building have been forced into new roles to keep up with the school. Nugent said that he loves that quirk, as it shows how dedicated the students are, despite the building not meeting the students’ needs.
“We’ve got people making music in every nook and cranny that we can squeeze somebody in this building, because there’s no space,” Nugent said.
Greeley West staff and students do the best with the space they are given. Classrooms are often shared among many teachers. Depending on which student you ask, the same room may either be called the choir or orchestra room. All the orchestra awards are on display, on top of an air conditioner. The display cabinets for all the sports teams are now too small for the size of the school. What was once a storage room has been turned into a piano room. A janitorial closet has been turned into a practice room for music students. The auditorium is used as a classroom. Students and staff have made the best use of the awkward angles and corners of the building.
Greeley West students and staff have said that the current construction is inconvenient, but manageable. Marching bands have had to find a new place to rehearse, and the construction can be extremely loud at times.
Upperclass students are aware they might not get to spend time in the new building, but are excited nonetheless. Liam Garcia, a senior at Greeley West, is excited for what the rebuild means for the music department.
“The mock ups for the music department looks to be a huge step up from what is currently offered,” Garcia said.
Greeley West students have been working hard. They are doing the best they can with the little they have. They intend on giving back to the community to express their gratitude to Greeley taxpayers for voting yes on the bond measure.
“It is the center of the community, and it’s not just used for Greeley West, but that it really is a community gathering place. I’m a small town guy and that is what I really see the new building is,” said Cranson.
The new building will serve as a place for the community to gather, and celebrate both the school’s and Greeley’s history. Cranson said that the building will stand the test of time. The building will meet the needs of the students and the city. The building is not only made for the current sophomores who will be seniors at the time the new building opens, but for students 20 years from now.