Double digits

As school celebrates decade anniversary, 10-year faculty members reflect on past

10 years ago, the high school opened its doors. Pictured above from the first yearbook, teachers Jessica Brewster, Greg Christensen, and Ray Cooper have been at the school since its opening.

2006-07 school yearbook

10 years ago, the high school opened its doors. Pictured above from the first yearbook, teachers Jessica Brewster, Greg Christensen, and Ray Cooper have been at the school since its opening.

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“The pressure is on. The spotlight shines right on us, daring us to stand out. Others question our standards, our new legacy. Twelve newspaper articles from five different newspapers question whether or not we can do it, whether we can set a new standard in education in not just our area but the whole state. Whether or not our rigorous all Pre-AP classes are too much. They wonder if our school will carry out the predicted tradition of excellence. The summer ends, the last bricks are laid, and the time nears to begin our tradition. The spotlight beams as the doors of the brand-new campus open for the first time.”

These are words from the school’s first yearbook. When the school first opened, it received its fair share of speculation in local news, but over the past decade, students and faculty have proven the doubters wrong. As seen with the school district’s recent ranking of #35 in the state and the six volleyball state championships, the school can stand and compete with the highest-ranked schools not only athletically but academically.

As the 2015-2016 school year sets in full swing, the district celebrates its 10-year anniversary in a multitude of ways such as the 10th Learning @ Lovejoy and the 10th anniversary theatre production of Seussical. With the anniversary also comes the celebration of 10th year faculty members, faculty members who have been at the high school since its opening.

A lot has changed since the 2006-2007 school year. The school has transformed from a single class of 185 freshmen and a temporary middle school to four classes and over 1,300 students. Teachers who have been with the high school the past decade have been witnesses to this come-and-go of students and faculty.

“I’ve gone through almost every graduating class that’s graduated from the high school since we’ve been open,” animation teacher Ray Cooper said. “Maybe for the last eight years I’ve taught those students. And then there’s teachers that come and go and some you get attached to.”

Cooper has been witness to the physical changes to the school in that time span.

“Physically the school is even bigger,” Cooper said. “The construction that they’re doing down here on B-hall, they did that construction on D-hall a couple years ago.”

Anatomy teacher and cross country/track coach Greg Christensen has also noticed changes that go beyond the walls and halls of the building.

“The student sense of belonging and ownership in the school and the traditions and things like that have improved,” Christensen said. “There weren’t any initially, so now everyone feels like it’s actually a high school with some tradition to it.”

As the school has changed, so have the personal lives of many teachers.

“I had another child,” biology and StuCo teacher Theresa Dollinger said. “My son Cooper.”

Although the high school’s changes have contributed to the school’s success, many aspects of the school have remained the same throughout the years and continue to provide many achievements and individuality.

“The thing that I like that hasn’t changed is the administration’s support of teachers and coaches to try new things out of their comfort zone,” Christensen said. “They’ve always been really forward thinking in letting people try new things.”

Dollinger cited the consistency in the school’s graduate profile.

“I love that it has stayed the same, and I love that we still have a small school atmosphere,” Dollinger said.

With 10 years of experience as Leopards under their belts, the teachers that have been here from the beginning have advice to give those new to the school.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things,” Christensen said.

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