The front of the school is developing according to 3D modeled plans. (These graphics are not accurate to the final plans)
The front of the school is developing according to 3D modeled plans. (These graphics are not accurate to the final plans)
Anna Greenlee

Construction continues at West High

After announcing the plans for a new and improved version of West High in the fall of 2022, construction has taken place throughout the following school years. Here’s where we’re at in the construction process.

As the high school slotted into the district’s last spot for renovations, West High has been undergoing construction to renew its architecture from the late 60’s and to keep up with its growing student body. From the start of the 2023-24 school year on, students have noticed a decrease in parking and a change in the location of classrooms and offices. These temporary changes mean that students are one step closer to the finished project that was announced in the fall of 2022.

A product of the Iowa City Community School District’s Facilities Master Plan, this project is intended to address the spaces that have yet to be upgraded throughout the 55 years West has been open and to refresh those that are outdated or simply not fit for West anymore. This includes a new common space, new music facilities and a central location for all administrators and secretaries.

Assistant Principal Jenny Eustice explains the stage the construction workers are in now and the future plans in more detail, “So two big things are happening right now. They have completely gutted the old main office and guidance office and that’s going to turn into a new open common space that will be overflow seating for the cafeteria,” Eustice said.

“Then if you see on the outside of the building, they’re building out. That’s going to be brand new offices for guidance and the main office staff so all of the administrators will be in one spot, all the secretaries will be in one spot. And then the health office is going to move back upstairs as well because we want to have everything in one central location.” Eustice explained.

The construction of the new offices started in the summer of 2023 and has continued through the following school year. Secretary Michelle Minikus explains the process of temporarily moving the offices.

“[This process] was quite interesting actually, because we had a huge, like nice office that we needed to run for this amount of students and it was shrunk all down to this,” Minikus said.  “So we’ve adjusted as you can see. We’re making do and we’re making do because I know what we’re getting after.”

The temporary office space that has been used throughout this school year wasn’t originally meant to serve another purpose after the construction ended, but Eustice and the rest of the staff in charge of overseeing the project wondered if they could utilize the space to fit more classrooms.

“There actually wasn’t a plan for [this space]. We actually met with the district prior to winter break and just said, ‘What can we do with this space?’ ‘What funding could we use?’ So we have a couple of ideas, but most likely, this is going to be turned into a combination of classrooms and offices for support personnel.” Eustice said.

Once the construction on the exterior of West concludes, the next step is to renovate the choir and orchestra rooms. These rooms have remained the same since West’s opening and can no longer accommodate the classes and extracurricular activities that West is home to.

After the choir and orchestra rooms are completed, construction will move to the top floor of the library. The library will be consolidated into one floor, allowing more space for classrooms.

“Essentially, we’re moving everything from upstairs in the library to downstairs. The next big phase will be the choir and orchestra rooms and then consolidating the library all down to one floor. Above the library will turn into five classrooms,” Eustice said.

Although the library is being condensed to a single floor, this phase of construction will include two additional spaces attached to the library. One space will be used as a tech center and the other will be used as a new printing center.

“Most people probably haven’t or maybe don’t notice as much but the classroom right off the library, room 114, is being turned into a new computer tech center. [It will be the office of] Mr. Meade who does all of our computer repairs,” Eustice said. “Then the printing center is also moving downstairs. So what used to be room 133, the computer lab for AP Computer Science and classes like that, is being turned into the print copy center.”

Some of these projects have been started already, like the exterior projects and administrative spaces. Meade’s office and the new printing center have been started and are set to be completed by the end of the school year while the rest of the library will not be started until students are away for summer break. Eustice explains the estimated finish dates for the offices, choir and orchestra rooms, as well as the top floor of the library.

“The goal is that the main office, guidance office, the new entrance [and] commons area is open when we start school in August [next year],” Eustice said. “[…] It’s definitely phased out. So the offices will be done in August and then they’ll move to the choir and orchestra spaces. The library’s gonna be the last thing to be done in the 2025-26 school year.”

As construction continues, West is getting closer and closer to a new, renovated space that can accommodate every student. Spaces that have never been changed since 1968 are getting their long-awaited revamp, resulting in excitement from students and staff.

“I’m excited about having the space again, and also having everybody together. The students don’t have to worry about running downstairs to the health office, upstairs to guidance and all over the place. So we’ll be more uniform for everybody to find us,” Minikus said.

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About the Contributors
Ashlyn Brady, Features Editor
(she/her) Ashlyn is a junior and this is her second year on staff. She is the Feature Editor for the website this year. When she's not in the newsroom, you can find her curled up with a good book, hanging out with her friends and family, or listening to Taylor Swift!
Anna Greenlee, Graphics Editor
Anna is a sophomore in her first year on staff. She's the graphics editor for the WSS website, as well as part of the school's band, theatre and sophomore volleyball team. But on her off time, she likes to watch movies (which make her cry really easily), cook, bake, paint and go water- or snow-skiing with family.
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