Bringing class to DeKalb High School

By Shelby Devitt

The new DeKalb High School, 501 W. Dresser Road, was dedicated at a public ceremony Friday night on the 50-yard line of the football field. The people who made the new, multi-million dollar facility possible were recognized, including current and former District 428 board members.

The DeKalb High School marching band kicked off the night, which was also the 115th football season opener for the Barbs, with a performance of the school song and a few pop tunes. The bleachers filled with parents, students and other community members ready to celebrate the future of the school and be a part of the first game on the new field. Concessions were sold along the side of the sports complex, including orange and black DHS apparel and ears of corn, sponsored by the Kishwaukee Kiwanis.

This is the first year the club has decided to sell corn at a DHS football game, said Kishwaukee Kiwanis member Joan London.

“We opted to do a corn boil this year because of the community and outreach for the high school,” London said. “We decided it was important to be here and support the efforts of everyone who made this possible.”

After speeches and presentations of school and district administration, past and present board members, planning committees and representatives of the architect company and construction management, Congressman Randy Hultgren offered his congratulations. Hultgren, who had taken a tour of the new facility last week, had only praise to give.

“The building was clearly constructed with a keen eye for the future,” Hultgren said.

Following Hultgren’s statement, a long orange and black ribbon was cut on the 50-yard line by District 428 Superintendent Jim Briscoe, Board of Education President Tom Matya and Principal Douglas Moeller, among others.

“The goal at this dedication is to thank the community and residents of DeKalb and Cortland for support on passing the referendum, to thank planners and builders and to celebrate the largest financial investment in the history of our school district,” Matya said. “We want our residents and our students to take pride in our new facility.”

A new, modern facility means many changes for DeKalb High School students, Matya said.

“First and foremost, we have increased space for students. The old school had a capacity of 1250, and we have over 1700 students,” Matya said.

The larger school has wider hallways and bigger classrooms.

“Increased space makes it easier for students to get to classes and for teachers to have one on one instruction time with students,” Matya said.

The school is also technologically updated. Each classroom has Smartboards, and teachers will have laptop access.

“It’s going to change the way we are able to communicate with students,” Matya said.

Student musicians and athletes can also now take full advantage of their own facilities. Concerts and football games were held at NIU for the past several years, said parent and vice president of the music boosters Patti Gingrich.

“It’s fantastic. They finally have the space they need,” Gingrich said.

Also, for the first time in many years, DeKalb will have a closed campus for lunch, which means that students are no longer allowed to leave school to have lunch; they must stay in the cafeteria. By having a closed lunch, this allows for an extra 25 minutes of instruction time, Matya said.

Some students said the new high school will have a positive impact on their education.

“I think it’ll increase people’s ability to learn and be a part of the school and participate in school events,” said 2011 graduate Emily Garrison.

Junior Jonathon Boyd is excited about having a bigger school, but it might take students time to adjust to the changes.

“I found my locker number online, but I couldn’t find it in the school,” Boyd said.

“I’m really excited,” said senior Chelsea Danielson. “The classrooms have color, so I don’t feel like I’m in a prison. I love that we have a nice gym.”

Danielson had one concern, however. The new location makes it difficult for residents of outlying towns such as Malta and residents near Shabbona to get to school quickly.

“It’s kind of an inconvenient location for some people,” Danielson said.

The community will also reap the benefits of the new school. The fine arts complex can be used for community events and the commons area, which serves as the cafeteria, is available for public meetings. School board meetings will be held at the school, and the athletics complex is available to the general public year long, Matya said.

“This is a place the kids and community can enjoy for the next 110 years,” Briscoe said.