SNOHOMISH — A herd of sophomores cheered and walked into a shiny new navy-and-white gymnasium Tuesday. Juniors in Glacier Peak T-shirts playfully danced to “What Is Love” by ’90s rocker Haddaway.
“Welcome to Glacier Peak High,” boomed math teacher and orientation leader Kevin Judkins. “Give yourselves a hand!”
Glacier Peak High School’s inaugural class roared.
After years of planning, Glacier Peak is finally open and ready for class.
Sophomores toured their new school, met their principal and learned about high school life during an orientation Tuesday. They were the first class of students to spend a day at Snohomish’s newest high school, a three-story red-and-brown building in rural Snohomish off Cathcart Way.
Freshman orientation was Wednesday, and today is the first day of classes for all students.
“It’s amazing,” said student body treasurer Catherine Jorgensen, standing in Glacier Peak’s cafeteria. “It’s finally tangible. We can touch it. We can feel it. We can see the school colors in the gym. We can walk the hallways.”
The opening of Glacier Peak marks the end of Snohomish’s long tradition of being a one-high-school town. Though the community has an alternative high school, generations of Snohomish residents have grown up in red and white, full of Panther pride.
To ease the transition, Glacier Peak is opening with 1,000 underclassmen and no seniors. Administrators wanted seniors to graduate from the high school they had attended for years.
The opening is dividing some families, with students at both schools.
Andrew Weakly is a sophomore at Glacier Peak. His brother, Rob, is a senior at Snohomish High School. He said the new school is “pretty rad” and “super cool” and he doesn’t mind going to a different school than his brother attends. While he is happily shedding his red-and-white clothes in favor of Grizzly blue and white, he thinks it will take his family longer to cross over.
“We have a walk-in closet knee deep of red, white and black,” he said. “It’s what they’re used to. … I’m planning a trip to Value Village for blue, silver and white.”
Taxpayers funded the $88.9 million school with a bond they approved in 2004. The $141 million measure also paid for Little Cedars Elementary School and some renovation work at Snohomish High School. A $262 million bond passed in May will finish work at Snohomish High and several other projects across the district.
The new high school features floor-to-ceiling windows in the cafeteria with a view of Glacier Peak and around a dozen other mountains.
On Tuesday, while students checked out the building, construction crews painted, drilled and worked on the auditorium, which is scheduled to open in a few weeks. Though the bulk of the school is complete, there are still missing ceiling panels and equipment that needs to be installed. Portable toilets for work crews stand in the parking lot and construction trucks are parked in the bus lane.
With school starting, construction crews are scheduled to trade morning work for evening shifts, said Assistant Principal Lance Peters. He expects crews to continue fixing small glitches and touching up paint for weeks.
Principal Jim Dean is eager to have the punch list done, but he’s also thrilled to finally see students walking the halls, which smell faintly of new paint, claiming the new school as their own.
Back in the auditorium, he stood in front of the students and addressed them for the first time — Grizzly to Grizzly.
“You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for today — and the amazing part is we’re finally here,” he said, wearing a blue tie and a Glacier Peak lanyard around his neck. “You’re the first!”
Reporter Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.