The community came out Monday afternoon to tour the newly renovated Gering High School following a cornerstone ceremony and ribbon cutting ceremony.
To begin the festivities, members of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Nebraska held a cornerstone ceremony in front of the school. Masons poured corn, wine and oil over the brick during the ceremony as the celebration of the next chapter at Gering High School begins. The cornerstone ceremony is nearly identical to one used by President George Washington when he laid the nation’s capitol.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Daryl Wills, bond committee and Gering Public Schools Foundation member, expressed his excitement about the renovation.
“I am so elated that this institution where my children went and I have a grandson, who is in the first freshman group at the new Freshman Academy, is going to be here for years to come and I think that’s so important,” he said.
Gering High School junior Kennie McFarland shared her experiences learning through the construction with her classmates. As students and faculty dealt with the growing pains of routing classrooms, no locker rooms and the smells and sounds of a construction site, seeing the final product will help move Gering forward.
“Despite those challenges, we can now look back and see that the process, while not perfect, was necessary and has paved the way for a brighter future for all Gering students,” McFarland said.
Following the ribbon cutting, the community and alumni toured the new high school to see how the project updated the classrooms and space. There were also face painting and limbo stations for students to enjoy.
Third grader Lynlee Harder showed off her limbo skills Monday evening. Harder also said she likes the renovations.
“I think first it has better lockers and it’s bigger and it’s way more pretty,” Harder said. “The new classrooms are very nice.”
The 155,500 square foot building features upgraded safety features like latch monitoring exterior doors, security cameras and a single secured entrance. The new Freshman Academy is a 11,000 square foot space with seven classrooms. The Bulldog cafe and commons area will allow the district to host school presentations and large public events, the auxiliary gym can seat 244 spectators and the main gym has updated air conditioning, restrooms, acoustics and lighting.
As part of the renovation project, the district also announced new career pathways available to students. The pathways include: business, marketing and management; agriculture, food and natural resources; communication, arts and technology; skills and technical sciences; health sciences; human sciences and education.
Retired Lincoln Elementary teacher John Randall and his wife, Krissa toured the school and were impressed with the final product, especially the library.
“This is really impressive and really nice,” he said. “From what we’ve seen, I love the library. I have a granddaughter going to school here and she loves to read and that’s the first thing she really talked about, having a library like that that is very comfortable and inviting.”
The Randalls have had multiple generations attend Gering Public Schools and felt a lot of Bulldog pride walking through GHS.
“Both of our kids went to school here and graduated in 1984 and now our granddaughter is here,” Krissa said.
Seventh grader Caiden Voigt is also excited about the renovations and expansions, particularly to the gyms.
“It’s cool,” he said. “The gyms are nice. I’m looking forward to playing basketball in the gyms.”
Western Nebraska Community College College NOW! director Julia Newman looks forward to the partnership with high school students and WNCC.
“Gering High School has had a long and successful history of dual credit programming,” Newman said. “I envision an even more thoughtful, productive and inclusive partnership between WNCC and Gering Public Schools in the coming years.”
Throughout the community celebration, the public, alumni and students walked through the building. Students also enjoyed several activities set up by high schoolers like limbo and face painting. Gabriella Contreras and Macy Goodschmidt volunteered at the face painting station and said they are excited about the new GHS.
“I love it,” Contreras said. “Last year felt more condensed.”
Goodschmidt agreed and said the gym set up is better for athletes.
“I like it a lot better than the old one,” she said. “There’s a lot more room and I’m glad we have an extra gym for volleyball.”
The event kicked off a district-wide homecoming celebration as students and faculty dressed in paradise-themed attire everyday. Students held a pep rally in the new gym that evening at 7 p.m.