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Niwot High School celebrates new renovations

Last Thursday, Jan. 9, Niwot High alumni Oskar Wells and Sophia Jones stepped up to cut the ribbon. After months of construction, Niwot High School hosted a grand re-opening to show off its latest renovations.

"Kids have always been proud to go to Niwot High School," said Principal Eric Rauschkolb, "but now the building reflects the pride they feel in their school."

The funding for this project came from a 2016 bond issue in which voters approved $10 million for improvements and renovations. The school pulled together a Design Advisory Group comprised of past students, present students, parents and staff to decide how to move forward.

A recurring complaint about the school's design was the feeling of descending down the main staircase into a dungeon. "It was really dark," said NHS junior Kylie Eker. "We all got progressively more pale over the year."

The new design attempted to brighten the building while unifying the first and second stories.

Visitors now pass by the main office into a spacious seating area flooded with natural light. This space, the Learning Commons, has an enlarged stairway and terraced seating and working space for students, complete with electrical outlets. Through the full-length windows, it is possible to see the solar panels, which now provide up to 60% of the school's energy.

At the base of the staircase is a large 9-panel informative screen, where news, weather, and events are broadcast. Other wall banners showcase close-up photos of students and the opportunities Niwot High School has to offer.

Natural light extends far beyond the scope of the windows, as interior classrooms now boast solar tubes that convey sunlight from the outside in. In addition to new classrooms, the school received new carpeting with a gray-green design. "We love the Vegas carpet," said Eker.

Two other areas that got big updates were the library and the auditorium.

The library was converted into a modern media center and maker's space, complete with a green screen and plans for a 3-D printer. This new space provides opportunities for collaborative digital learning and creativity.

The auditorium got new carpets, seats and paint. There is a new accessible seating area in the back, plus a spring-loaded stage ideal for performances by the Centennial Ballet.

Outside the main building, the grounds also got an update. Passersby have probably noticed the refurbished track and the banners suspended from parking lot light posts. Down on the athletic fields, the number of tennis courts increased from six to eight. This will give Niwot the opportunity to host larger athletic events such as Regionals.

Just this summer, the learning commons was one large pit of dirt, and students were trekking back and forth to class on a concrete floor. The final update was unveiled just after Thanksgiving break, but it was well worth the wait. "Overall, it's just improved so much," said junior Kayla Osegueda.

"I would like to say thank you to the voters who made this all possible," said Rauschkolb. He recognized that the strength of a public school comes from its community, and our community is strong. Rauschkolb commits to doing "everything we can to continue to make the community of Niwot very proud of its high school."


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