Sullivan County school leaders break ground on West Ridge High

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Sullivan County is a major step closer to seeing a new high school. Friday, the school board held a ground breaking ceremony for West Ridge High.

Current high schools Sullivan Central, Sullivan North and Sullivan South will close, and most of those students will go to the new high school when it opens. The future West Ridge High site is off of Lynn Road, by the Tri-Cities airport.
 
At the ground breaking, school leaders unveiled the mascot for West Ridge High School. The future students will be the wolves.

That was kept as a secret until Friday, but something made very clear, for the Sullivan County school board, this is a day that has been a long time in the making.

“It’s a very exciting day in Sullivan County for Sullivan County Schools,” said Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski.

School leaders celebrated alongside Sullivan County teachers and students, who will one day call West Ridge home.

“It’s like switching schools but you get to keep all your friends,” said student Charles Landry.

The board of education announced the schools name last month, along with its colors — sky blue, charcoal and white.

But until the ground breaking, the mascot was kept under wraps.

Despite the excitement, it’s no secret, some community members have raised concerns about potential roads leading into the high school.

“We still have a lot of conversations about that moving forward. There are some changes in leadership, and those are some conversations that will take place later,” Rafalowski said.

So while the school director says those plans are still up in the air, one thing is certain – West Ridge will offer unique programs to prepare students for college and real life jobs.

“In our career academy we offer 27 college credits in welding, 33 in machine, 24 in entertainment technology,” board chairman Michael Hughes said. “We’re going to have a bank or credit union of some sort in this school. Students are going to get real work experience.”

“We feel like we can give them a concrete flooring to experience different careers and as they pursue that education, that post secondary education after leaving high school, maybe they’re a little more solid about what they want to do for their career,” said Rafalowski.

The board is still awaiting construction bids on this new high school. Rafalowski says she’s hoping those come in within their $60 million price tag.

The projected opening date for West Ridge High School is Fall 2020.

This marks the second ground breaking for Sullivan County schools this school year. The board broke ground on their new middle school back in November 2017.

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