A new scene for students

The community got its first look at the Iola High School science building on Saturday. Members of the steering committee that helped bring a bond issue to voters were on hand, along with former school administrators who helped usher in a new era.

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October 4, 2021 - 9:36 AM

An open house at the new science and technology building at Iola High School on Saturday drew a large crowd to tour the facility and enjoy hot dogs and burgers in the new commons area. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Former superintendent Don Bain saw the opening of two science buildings in Iola.

Bain taught science when a new facility opened in 1964. Now retired, Bain was on hand Saturday morning to tour the building that replaced it. 

“This is an amazing facility and it’s quite an improvement,” he said. “I understand the old one has deteriorated quite a bit.”

Ray Maloney, Dan Willis and Stacey Fager check out the open house.Photo by Vickie Moss
USD 257 Board of Education President Dan Willis shows the mechanical workings of the new science building to Ray Maloney, a member of the steering committee that helped develop plans for the new facilities and see its passage come to fruition. The $35 million bond issue was widely supported by voters.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register
School board members Dan Willis and Doug Dunlap look at a video of the construction process.Photo by Vickie Moss

The new science and technology building, with its massive commons area and a new cafeteria, was unveiled to the public with an open house on Saturday. High school students and faculty gave tours to small groups, as hundreds of visitors stopped by to check it out.

Bain recalled the challenges of moving from an old building that doubled as a custodian’s house, where chemicals were stored in the basement.

“We were practically in the middle of the school year, so we were moving while we were teaching,” he said.

Bain was accompanied by his former assistant superintendent, Richard Chase. Their history goes back to their teens, when they competed against each other in athletic competitions in high school and college. They later served as principals for area schools at the same time, and Bain asked Chase to work with him when he took over as superintendent. They worked together for 20 years.

The two walked from classroom to classroom, frequently stopped along the way by former coworkers, students and others in the community. They took time to reminisce about the former building, and learn about the features included at the new one.

“So many former students are here,” Bain said.

Family and consumer sciences teacher Breanna Floyd talks with former superintendent Don Bain, front, and former assistant superintendent Richard Chase. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

BAIN and Chase spent quite a bit of time in the new culinary and nutrition classroom, which features six cooking stations and state-of-the-art equipment.

It was a popular stop on the tour, where instructor Breanna Floyd talked with visitors about the various appliances and updates.

“They are really impressed with how the stations are a cross between a commercial and a home kitchen,” she said. “We have those commercial touches in here, which they’ve never seen before.”

Floyd said she expects the new classrooms will result in increased interest in her classes. Cooking classes tend to be a bit more popular than some of the other family and consumer science classes, such as sewing.

She’s looking forward to having more room, allowing for more groups. She also can reduce the size of her student groups, from four students to three, to allow for more focused instruction.

Science teacher Lisa Wicoff shows how to make Play-Dough hearts to Kadence Gragg, left, and Mike and Tyson Koehn.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

MEMBERS of the steering committee that helped usher through a bond issue for the new building got their first look at the result of their efforts.

They included Savannah Flory and Ray Maloney. 

Efforts to build a new science center began in December of 2017, when the district offered tours of the old building to show how it had deteriorated. Voters passed a $35 million bond issue in 2019, including about $25 million to build a new elementary school at Kentucky and Monroe streets, the science building for about $7 million and replace heating and cooling systems at the middle school for about $2.8 million.

The HVAC upgrade was completed over the summer.

The elementary school is expected to be completed next summer, and open in the fall of 2022.

The science building’s construction was delayed a few months because of various issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. Students will begin classes in the building today.

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