Yampa Valley School students work Thursday on art projects. Students at the campus said a renovation project in the summer made their campus feel more like a "legitimate" high school campus.

Photo by Scott Franz

Yampa Valley School students work Thursday on art projects. Students at the campus said a renovation project in the summer made their campus feel more like a "legitimate" high school campus.

Renovations bolster Yampa Valley School campus

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— New paint. New lockers. New science lab.

The summer additions to the Yampa Valley School seem simple, but they mean a lot to the small alternative school that until this fall felt more like a collection of cluttered rooms than a full-fledged high school campus.

“The kids sometimes felt like they were tucked into a corner,” teacher Chuck Rosemond said Thursday as he showed off the improvements to his school. “We really needed to modernize a lot of things and make this place feel more like a school.”

In their wing of the George P. Sauer Human Services Center last school year, teachers didn't have quiet or private offices in which they could talk with students. Kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs sometimes would walk through the hallways during classes and distract students. And students reported they didn't feel comfortable leaving their personal belongings on their desks without the safety of a locker.

An $88,000 renovation and relocation project this summer changed all of that.

In what both sides have described as a win-win project, the high school and the Boys & Girls Club swapped spaces and are getting settled into their rooms fitted with new paint and carpeting.

The after-school club for kids gained some space in its main lounge.

Yampa Valley School teachers gained offices, and their students gained a dedicated science lab, a place to hang out and eat lunch and lockers for the first time in years.

“All of the changes make this school feel more legitimate,” Rosemond said. “It also shows the school district supports this campus and recognizes we are here to stay.”

Before he embarked on an art project Thursday, sophomore Dylan Rice said the changes have benefits that go beyond aesthetics.

It's easier to focus in class now that the rooms feel more like classrooms, he said, adding that his second year at the school feels much different than his first.

“It seems like more of a school now,” Rice said. “We didn't even have lockers before.”

Founded as a program of the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the Yampa Valley School serves 23 students who chose the campus for its small class sizes and alternative atmosphere that they didn't have at a larger high school. Many of the school's students also were at risk for dropping out.

The Steamboat Springs School District took over and started to fund the school in 2010, about a year after it grew from a small school of 12 students to its current size.

From repaving and redesigning the parking lot at Steamboat Spring Middle School to adding a new health clinic, the district embarked on a number of renovation projects this summer.

Pascal Ginesta, the district's director of maintenance operations and transportation, said Thursday that the project at the Yampa Valley School was the most rewarding.

“This one really touched the kids and gave them a better learning environment,” Ginesta said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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