New Independence Jr.-Sr. High taking shape - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New Independence Jr.-Sr. High taking shape

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After 10 years and five failed bond issues, it seemed like a new junior-senior high school would never get built in Independence.  But the sixth time was the charm to approve the measure. After 10 years and five failed bond issues, it seemed like a new junior-senior high school would never get built in Independence. But the sixth time was the charm to approve the measure.
INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -

After 10 years and five failed bond issues, it seemed like a new junior-senior high school would never get built in Independence.

But the sixth time was the charm to approve the measure.

Now, a brand-new, $23 million school is taking shape. KWWL got an exclusive sneak peek at the progress.         

Walking inside what will be her new digs, Independence Junior-Senior High principal Jennifer Sornson still can't believe her eyes.

"This was an open field a year ago," she said. "It's incredible the amount of progress that's happened in just one year."

The brand new building is quite a sight, sitting one-third larger than the current junior-senior high school.

The "main street" area that spans the front entry includes a stunning glass atrium. Several features like that were designed to help keep operating costs low.

"Energy has been a focus," Sornson said. "We have lots of automatic features to make sure our energy costs stay down."

District leaders say the new school has been built with 21st-century education in mind.

Every classroom is equipped with a projector and high-speed Internet connections to accommodate a one-to-one laptop initiative starting this fall.

The commons area is spacious. Floors are being set in the brand-new gymnasium.

"We're just terribly excited to have our first musical production, to have our first volleyball match in here, because it's just so different from what we've had in the past," Sornson said. "They have so much area and everything they could possibly want."

The building also includes features the old school didn't have.

There's a space for the new ag education program, a nearly 700-seat auditorium, and four specially-designed locker rooms that can also be used as storm shelters, thanks to FEMA grants.

Everything about the school aims to erase problems that have plagued the current, aging junior-senior high.

The community's been involved every step of the way, from getting the bond passed to prepping the site for construction, and volunteering time on the weekends to sweep floors.

"They have been invested since day one, and they have made this happen," said Sornson.

There's still a lot of work to do to finish construction, and less than three months to get it done. But Sornson is confident the building will be fully ready by the start of classes in August, beginning a brand-new chapter of educating students.

Once construction of the new school is complete, several open house events will be held for students, staff, and the community to get them acquainted with the building.

School is scheduled to start August 19.

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