The whir of power tools and the clank of hammers signals a new phase for Pasco’s New Horizons High School.
The school’s Principal Seth Johnson is excited about what the renovation of Building W at Columbia Basin College will mean for the 300 students enrolled in the alternative high school when it opens next fall.
“To be the principal that gets to open the new building and gets to be involved in this, it’s been such an awesome opportunity,” Johnson said.
The roughly $2.4 million project was included in a bond that voters approved in 2013. The recent completion of the Social Sciences and World Languages building allowed the Pasco district to begin working on renovating the W building.
Students are taking classes in a collection of portables surrounding a central building next to the college’s Argent Road campus.
The state of the buildings became an issue during the Pasco teacher strike in the fall when a teacher brought an enlarged photo from the school. It appeared to show decaying buildings, including signs of mice infestation.
“We have an incredible staff there that really does a lot despite having some limited facilities,” Johnson said. “Now we’re going to have the facilities to match our program.”
Designs call for new classrooms surrounding a central commons area.
We have an incredible staff there that really does a lot despite having some limited facilities. Now we’re going to have the facilities to match our program.
Students in the school’s art program displayed their work in Pasco late last year.
“I’m blown away by the artistic ability of some of our students, and they’re just doing it in a portable classroom,” he said. “Here they’re going to have pottery wheels and kilns and drying racks. They are going to have a legitimate art lab here.”
Along with a regular science lab, the school is getting a new lab for its agricultural science program. The school offers horticulture and floral programs.
“We have quite a few community members that access our floral program,” he said. “When I walk in at Valentine’s Day and they’re just busy in this small, cramped portable trying to get their work done.”
Plans also call for the school to have space to coach students who need help, along with a new space for childcare and a food pantry. The pantry, which is stocked by Second Harvest, provides students in need with access to food.
One of the highlights for Johnson and CBC President Rich Cummins is integrating the high school into the college campus. The two entities want to provide students with a seamless transition, and have students leave high school with either a college degree, certificate, or credits.
Many of the New Horizons students come from an underprivileged background, and don’t think they have the opportunity to attend college, Johnson said.
By giving students access to college education, they are giving them a path to the middle class, Cummins said. He wants New Horizons students to be part of a ninth through 16th-grade program.
“We’re going to be able to break the poverty cycle in families,” Johnson said.