OLATHE, Kan. -- The new Olathe West High School opens on Wednesday, August 16th with an incoming student body of about 900.
There will be no senior class, for the first year. While Olathe West will have no senior class, it has just about everything else.
“Everything is awesome,” gushes incoming sophomore Reagan Gimbert, who, like many others, is transferring from Olathe Northwest.
“It’s gigantic,” she laughed.
Indeed, it is.
With 375,000 square feet to work with, the three-story glass and steel structure boasts just about every amenity you’d expect from a high school with an $88-million price tag.
“We are very grateful for the support of Olathe taxpayers,” said Jay Novacek, Olathe West’s principal.
The cost of the new school is covered by a $244 million dollar bond issue passed by Olathe voters in 2013. The high school has three gyms, a new TV studio, several multi-media workshops and a state-of-the-art weight room and fitness center.
The school also has two 21st Century Programs designed to arm students with career-focused skills. One is the Public Safety Academy, for aspiring police and firefighters. Another is called the Green Tech Academy, for careers in botany and renewable energy.
“A student might go on to be some kind of environmental scientist but you might also be a guy who goes out to western Kansas to work on the windmills,” Novacek said.
The Olathe West Owls will compete in all varsity sports except football in this first academic year. The Owls will compete against the other Olathe high schools in the Sunflower League.
A beam pulled from the wreckage of The World Trade Center on 9/11 is mounted outside of the Public Safety Academy.
Reagan Gimbert was born after 9/11, but the symbolism isn’t lost on the sophomore.
“It just reminds kids about what happened on 9/11 and why we have public safety and why it’s important.”