By Conrad Dudderar
A contest among Yukon Public Schools’ students to name a taxpayer-funded Yukon High School addition is being planned.
Yukon Public Schools’ Instructional and Performing Arts Center and Yukon Millers Activity Facility will be built on the YHS campus, 1777 S Yukon Parkway.
A ground-breaking ceremony preceded the Yukon Millers’ Sept. 1st football season opener against Westmoore.
“If it’s OK with the board, I would like to have some sort of naming contest with our students to name the facility over the next year or two,” YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth told the audience.
“That way they can take ownership in it as well.”
Estimated cost is $80 million for both facilities, which will be directly south of the YHS Wellness Center and Miller Stadium.
Construction will start this fall and take about 24-30 months to complete, Simeroth said.
Participants in Friday night’s groundbreaking were Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby, YPS Board of Education Members Suzanne Cannon, Leonard Wells and Cody Sanders; YHS Principal Melissa Barlow and Simeroth, along with representatives of Manhattan Construction and The Stacy Group architects.
The Yukon band drumline, cheerleaders and pom squad members performed for attendees.
“It’s so exciting to get the ball rolling,” Principal Barlow said, after years of planning. “This is exactly what our students need.
“It’s going to open so many possibilities and doors for us here on our campus.”
The 150,000-square-foot YPS Instructional and Performing Arts Center will have 17 classrooms and learning spaces to accommodate YHS students. This will ease congestion in the YHS building constructed more than 10 years ago.
YHS enrollment has surpassed 2,800 students in grades 9-12.
“That fluctuates day in and day out as kids move into our community and families continue to come – which is just outstanding,” said Barlow, starting her 11th year as YHS head principal.
“We have an excellent staff of teachers who are welcoming our kids. It’s been a really great start to the school year so far.”
The YPS Instructional and Performing Arts Center will have a 1,500-seat auditorium. There will be large classrooms and storage for programs like drama, orchestra and stage craft; along with labs for health careers, aerospace, media production, and computer science.
The 91,000-square-foot Yukon Millers Activity Facility will feature a large indoor practice field, locker rooms, weight rooms, offices, and other space for YPS athletes and students.
These “cutting-edge” instructional, performing arts and athletic facilities will enrich education opportunities for both students and staff, according to Dr. Simeroth.
Serving his 10th year in Yukon, Simeroth called last Friday night’s ground-breaking a “significant milestone” in the school district’s commitment to providing “unparalleled educational experiences.”
“Our students will have access to dynamic resources that enable them to explore, experiment, and engage in hands-on learning,” YPS schools’ chief added. “As we break ground on this remarkable facility, we extend our gratitude to the community for its unwavering support in advancing education.
“We look forward to witnessing the positive impact this facility will have on generations of students to come.”
YPS is Yukon’s largest employer, he told the audience.
Construction of the YPS Instructional and Performing Arts Center and the Yukon Millers Activity Facility are being through a $194 million bond issue package approved by Yukon voters in a November 2021 election.
A YHS graduate, Principal Barlow thanked YPS district patrons for their strong backing.
“Yukon is the greatest community around, which is why I came back to raise my family here and to work at our school,” she said. “It is such a blessing to know our community voted on this bond to support us, to support our kids – and really the future of our town.”
The bidding process will begin soon as contractors from various trades are selected for this major YPS construction project on the YHS campus.