- Associated Press
Monday, December 19, 2016

ARCHER CITY, Texas (AP) - A green screen beckons from the broadcast studio as reporters and editors sling words on their graphically savvy Macintosh computers.

The Wichita Falls Times Record News (https://bit.ly/2hL2lAi ) reports journalism is happening as Archer City ISD Superintendent C.D. Knobloch enters the newsroom, ready for his 2:30 p.m. interview.

Hard-nosed Archer City High School Wildcats journalism students are preparing the next news edition, which will include their featured story: Archer City students - themselves included - have at long last moved into the two-story, $11.4 million Archer City ISD Junior High/High School.

Students and faculty this month waved goodbye to the portable buildings next to the construction site that they have called home for more than a year and settled into their new digs.

It was an early Christmas present that almost didn’t happen.

This 55,000-square foot, state-of-the-art junior high/high school, which houses 25 certified teachers and about 230 students (with room for 400), might not have been. The $17.75 million bond that funded the school - about 24 percent of that bond being paid for by wind farm revenue - passed by just seven votes in November 2014 and also has funded new athletic turf fields, cafeteria renovations and some elementary school building improvements.

The $11.4 million high school/junior high project - the price tag includes a parking lot, landscaping and the demolition of the old school - would have cost about the same as renovating the old structure, which was built in 1925 and was “not conducive to education today,” Knobloch said.

Not that everyone in rural Archer City agreed that building a new school was the way to go.

Opposing residents said the expense of building a brand new facility wasn’t necessary. And then there was the nostalgia factor. The old structure, after all, was the same one Archer City native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry roamed when he attended classes there.

Students, however, seemed ecstatic to have a new school.

“My favorite part is home economics,” ninth-grader Vanessa Rater said. ” … I like that we have more than one oven. Now we have four.”

Freshman Avery Williams, who is in theater, said she loves the new auditorium - also a favorite feature for Knobloch.

“When we do plays, it’s more structured; you know where to go,” Williams said.

On a recent Friday afternoon, in the midst of a basketball tournament at the school, assistant band director David Belcher was busy preparing students for the inaugural concert in that new auditorium. It touts a catwalk, much improved acoustics, a state-of-the-art sound system and updated seating.

Ninth-grader J’Lee Cantrell said one of her favorite parts of the building is the student-gathering lobby area, also called the commons area, complete with contemporary sofas and tall tables and chairs.

And then there’s the video tech lab, where all that journalism goes on.

“We have a TriCaster, which is what Channel 3 and Channel 6 use. We have a group coming in to train us,” journalism teacher Carol Cox said.

“In our old building, we did have a studio, but we had equipment that was 15 or 16 years old. We were making it work,” Cox said, “but we went from live broadcasts to recorded segments” because the equipment was so old.

While students attend those journalism classes, as well as science, math and the like, construction workers are still there putting finishing touches on the building, and landscaping work remains.

What visitors to the structure might notice is a wall behind display glass made up of bricks from the old Archer City ISD Junior High/High School, which was demolished to make room for the new structure.

The new building was constructed on the same spot as the old facility - the most cost-efficient choice, Knobloch said - so that the schools and administration building could remain next to each other, and so the schools could continue to share some common areas, such as the cafeteria.

It was a somewhat complicated build, considering all the regulations involved in demolishing a 90-year-old building. But the complications seem worth it as you glance at that brick memorial wall, which honors the old school while current students create new memories over the next 90 years.


Information from: Wichita Falls Times Record News, https://www.timesrecordnews.com

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