Cars filled an empty field in Liberty Lake last week as the community turned out in droves for the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Ridgeline High School.
Ridgeline Principal Jesse Hardt was among several Central Valley School District officials who thanked the community for voting to approve a construction bond in 2018 to build the district’s third comprehensive high school.
He noted that the name of the school came from the mountains visible in nearly every direction. “A ridgeline is strong and stands the test of time,” he said.
Hardt also thanked the core group of teachers who have been helping him make decisions on everything from construction to programming at the new school. Their job has been to bring the school to life and make it feel like home, he said.
“Our next two years will be a flurry of preparation,” he said. “Our preparation of the Ridgeline way is as important as the concrete and steel that will go up around us.”
Superintendent Ben Small thanked the Spokane Gun Club for selling its property to the school district for the high school. The 60-acre site at 20150 E. Country Vista Drive has since been annexed into the city of Liberty Lake.
“We’re standing on property the school district did not own one year ago today,” Small said. He noted the district has been discussing a third high school for 40 years.
“It’s a long planning time,” Small said. “But once we hit, boy did we move.”
Washington state Sen. Mike Padden was one of several elected officials who used a golden shovel to toss a symbolic pile of dirt to mark the groundbreaking. “This is the first new comprehensive high school built in Spokane County since Mt. Spokane High School in 1997,” he said. “Projects like this new school mean a tremendous amount, not only to the students but to the entire community.”
Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson said he was happy to see a new high school being built and also mentioned the new elementary school and middle school the district has built in Liberty Lake in recent years. “What an opportunity for our community, having K-12 in our own city boundaries,” he said. “I thank you for constructing new schools here.”
The district’s current high schools, Central Valley and University, are overcrowded. Each was built to house 1,600 students and are now housing more than 4,300 combined. Ridgeline’s 80 classrooms will accommodate 1,600 students, relieving that overcrowding. The two-story building and several sports fields and tennis courts are expected to be complete in September 2021 at a projected cost of $99 million.
Site work has been underway for weeks. Many of the dry wells are in, as are the water and sewer lines. The building site has been graded. Dirt and rock needed for fill came from a hill on the site, which was dismantled and sorted. Large rocks were crushed on site. Small said using the hill helped the district save money on construction costs.
An access road connecting the site to Country Vista Drive has been completed and paved and another access road is underway.
After the dedication ceremony, community members were offered golf cart tours of the expansive site. A small set of bleachers marked the future home of the sports stadium, a music stand showed where the band room would be and a popcorn machine perched on a table marked the future home of the concession stand.
Small, who led several of the tours, said the parking lot will have 945 spots, which is more than at either Central Valley or University. Those schools are located in neighborhoods that can handle overflow parking during large events, Small said.
“There’s no neighborhood for parking during events here,” he said.
One of the locations at the site marked with a sign during the tours was the principal’s office. A desk and chair were brought in and Hardt took the opportunity to sit down and put his feet up. During a previous tour of the site he’d attempted to locate his office, but got the spot wrong.
“We GPS’d it this time, so it’s a lot more accurate,” he said.
Though he was able to put his feet up for a bit that night, there won’t be much time for Hardt to relax as he prepares the school for it’s 2021 opening.
“I’m totally excited,” he said. “This is awesome.”
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