When Mission Valley shut down last year and the students got moved to Indian Hills, the school’s student population nearly doubled, with 751 students (previously, the largest amount of students the school had held in 25 years was 613.) Now, with 393 seventh graders and 358 eighth graders, the overcrowding trend has continued into the 2012-2013 school year.
In an effort to target the problem, the school added on revisions at the end of last year and over the summer. Among the new additions were a wing with four new classrooms allowing each teacher have their own classroom, a new computer lab, gym, locker rooms and a cafeteria. In 2008, Mission Valley got a $3.2 million new library, which became a cause of tax-payer frustration when the school closed. To appease annoyed members of the Mission Valley community, Indian Hills got their own new library that resembles the Mission Valley one, with wide windows that can be seen from Delmar.
The new additions haven’t completely solved the problem of overcrowding, but they’ve certainly improved things. While overcrowded hallways and staircases that have to be specified as up or down remain part of the crowding problem, the crowded classes, shared classrooms and countless layoffs that were seen all over the school have been fixed.
The additions aren’t welcomed by everyone. East freshmen and Indian Hills graduates like Hayden Roste don’t appreciate the construction. Roste was annoyed that he didn’t get to enjoy the benefits that came after all the construction, just the chaos during.
“It sucked because there was construction during school last year,” Roste said. “We didn’t get to have the outcome of it.”
Freshman Tommy Sherk was just happy to be done with the school and all its problems.
“I’m glad to be out of there and not have to deal with it anymore.” Sherk said. “It was pretty crowded as is and the construction didn’t help.”
The merger did come with benefits, however. With Indian Hills now the only public feeder school to East, the freshman this year have had a different experience coming in knowing their peers before coming to East.
Now, looking back, some students seem to like knowing who they were going to high school with. They now have a friend group that they feel comfortable with and won’t have to try to make new connections.
“We got all the drama out of the way in middle school so high school is more laid back.” freshman Samantha Belanger said.
Freshman Avery Bolar, a self proclaimed shy kid, is glad to know other students before getting to high school.
“I like knowing everyone,” Bolar said, “that way I’m not so shy and quiet all day.”
Students crammed into the school got to know each other well before getting to East, Sherk said.
“It was a close environment so you got to know everyone better which is nice in high school because you already know people.” Sherk said.
“It makes you feel more comfortable already knowing more people in your grade,” Roste said. “It was a big change though because we went from open space to pretty crowded.”
While the merger gave students from both schools the chance to meet each other, the two student bodies didn’t completely come together. Belanger said former Mission Valley students felt bitter that their school was shut down.
“The feeling in the school was different.” Belanger said, “I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t feel a connection to the school. The classes were big so I wouldn’t talk. The school felt chaotic.”
On the other hand, Indian Hills students felt that their school was being invaded.
“You could tell the Indian Hills students were resentful to have all the new students in their school.” Laudemann said. “I don’t think anyone was too happy.”
New to the Shawnee Mission school district, Bolar got an outside view of the school’s situation. Coming to Indian Hills he knew only five students, from his swim team, the PV Piranhas.
“I kept the same friends for like a month and a half or two months until people started branching out and like making friends,” he said.
Ultimately, Laudemann sees the addition of Mission Valley students as a good thing.
“It gives students a broader friend base.” Laudemann said, “The students are able to make new friends plus it generates more school spirit since all the kids already are already together.”