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Randolph students begin school year in new high school

| Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | Aug. 17, 2016

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — When the first day of school begins Monday, 450 students at Randolph High School will be learning in classrooms with more space, going from class to class in wider hallways and utilizing technology upgrades in a new 44,000-square-foot building dedicated Aug. 10 by Randolph Field Independent School District officials.

The two-story classroom facility is part of a new 77,000-square-foot high school complex being constructed behind the old high school building, which was built in 1962. The $15 million project includes the construction of a new cafeteria and gymnasium that will be housed together in a separate 33,000-square-foot building, with an expected completion date of March 2017. There will also be a demolition of the old high school campus.

Lance Johnson, RFISD superintendent, told students the new high school building will help provide them with the education and tools they need to succeed after they graduate.

“We are raising a generation who will be the leaders of this country,” Johnson said. “Our job as educators is to make sure you are equipped to compete at a global level when you leave Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Our vision goes outside the fence of JBSA-Randolph. This is for you students.”

The new building includes 25 classrooms, four science labs, three computer labs, restrooms, administrative offices, technology improvements – wireless access points, more data capabilities and upgraded data cabling – a nurse’s office and a secure door entering the building.

“The building itself is just more modern,” Johnson said. “It’s fresh, it’s nice and new. We are so excited to see students laughing and walking around and getting an education – the best education in the world – in these hallways.”

Johnson said the construction of the new high school complex was made possible by the vision of present and former RFISD school board members. He also thanked Gallagher Construction for their work in being the school district’s project manager for the new complex, as well as U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar for his help in securing a U.S. Department of Education grant covering part of the project’s cost.

The Department of Education grant is covering $10.4 million of the project’s cost, with the remainder – $4.7 million – coming from the school district’s fund balance. For the school district to receive the grant, the Department of Education stipulated the old high school building, which it owned, be torn down.

The dedication ceremony included remarks from RFISD board president Jimmy Cornelius and two Randolph High School graduates, Lt. Col. Peter Duffy, 435th Fighter Training Squadron assistant director of operations, and Courtney White, a teacher and coach at Randolph Middle School. Duffy, a 1995 graduate, and White, a 1998 graduate, both spoke about their positive experiences as students at Randolph High School. White gave the invocation for the opening of the new building and for the students and staff who will be learning and working in it.

After the dedication and ribbon-cutting, Johnson and Mark Malone, Randolph High School principal, conducted a tour of the new high school building.

The new high school classrooms are a definite upgrade from the old high school building, Malone said.

“Everything is upgraded for learning,” he said. “These kids are the children of military members who make a great sacrifice. Why would we not give them the best facilities we can?”

Deborah Pannabecker, Randolph High School science teacher, said her classroom and lab space is three times the size of what she had in the old building. Her former classroom did not have any instructional desks, so students had to sit on stools and use the lab tables for desk areas.

“The kids will be able to have a much more engaging experience in the classroom because we have separate instructional and lab areas,” Pannabecker said.

Brooke LaMantia, a Randolph High School senior and president of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes who gave the closing prayer at the dedication, said she was excited about going to school in the new building.

“I’ve been here since kindergarten,” she said. “This is definitely home.”