The ceremonial shovel turning May 31 signifies the official groundbreaking of the Olympic High School construction project. Photo courtesy Central Kitsap School District

OHS groundbreaking ceremony celebrates hopes for the students’ futures

SILVERDALE — Construction is underway at Olympic High School.

Following voter-approval of a $220 million levy and bond in February 2016, the Central Kitsap School District has begun many projects throughout the district to upgrade its schools. On May 31, the modernization of OHS began with a ceremonial groundbreaking.

“We want a school that welcomes and supports our students and families, that respects our many cultures and traditions,” OHS Principal Rebecca Johnson said at the ceremony.

“We want Olympic High School to be a place that you’re proud to walk into every day. The creation of this space … it’s about our hopes for [our students].”

The OHS project includes demolishing the center portion of the school and, in its place, constructing a two-story core building with career and technical education, as well as permanent classrooms so students can be moved out of portables.

This new center will include a library, auditorium, commons area and a secure entryway. The campus’ existing library will be converted into new science labs and a special-education classroom.

“Back when this school was built, people could only imagine things like smartphones, self-driving cars or a map of the human genome,” CKSD Superintendent David McVicker said at the ceremony.

“Keeping pace is a huge challenge that faces all schools. How do we make sure that what we teach you, how we teach you and the schools that we teach you in get you ready for tomorrow’s careers? The construction here at Olympic is part of the work we’re doing to meet that challenge.”

According to the district website, www.ckschools.org, the project is needed because “parents and community members have emphasized the need to get rid of portable classrooms. The proposed plan will add permanent classrooms. Olympic High School was built in 1979. Since then, the needs of employers have changed a lot. [The existing] technical education classrooms are dated and no longer support what students need to learn.”

The new construction will be 88,100 square feet and have 24 new classrooms and two labs.

“With each new change, I’ve gotten a little more excited about what this school will be like in fall of 2018,” Johnson said. “I came to Olympic High School as principal four years ago because I loved the makeup of this school. It’s not a cookie-cutter kind of place. We have a student body that’s rich with cultures, talents and backgrounds. And that came up a lot as this project started more than a year ago.

“Before floor plans were ever drawn, we talked. We talked with [students], with families, with staff about who we are, who we want to be and how we want this building to reflect that.”

Johnson said the school improvements are “possible because of the support of our community.”

“They’re investing in this work because they care about you,” she told the students. “They believe in our school. And they expect great things.”

The upgrades are expected to be complete at the start of the 2018-19 school year. For more information on this and other CKSD construction projects, visit www.ckschools.org.

— Michelle Beahm is an editor with the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.

The Olympic High School groundbreaking ceremony May 31 opens with the national anthem. Photo courtesy Central Kitsap School District

Central Kitsap School District Superintendent David McVicker takes a selfie with Olympic High School students at the groundbreaking ceremony May 31. Central Kitsap School District

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