Saturday, July 16, 2011 marked the dedication of one of Colorado’s first all-new school buildings to be constructed with funding from the State’s BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) Grant Program. State Senator Gail Schwartz was on hand speaking  to the improved nature of Colorado schools and to present members of the Community with a Colorado State Flag, previously flown at the State’s Capital Building to commemorate the occasion.

From the beginning, it was important to reflect the culture of the area in the design of the new school. A single 40-acre site, donated by a generous farmer, was selected to provide equal access from the three communities served.   The central location now serves Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, consolidating and replacing two existing facilities with approximately 8,000 s.f, and considerably reducing the demand on transportation.  Even before the school year began, community members embraced the building and would gather to escape the summer heat and socialize.

Due to its rural nature, careful planning and consideration was taken to minimize infrastructure and site development costs, as well as provide business, adult, and remote learning opportunities to serve the greater community.  Additionally, classrooms, vocational laboratory spaces and classrooms (both agriculture and technology), and Library and Media instruction is provided.

The School District and Community were committed to the adoption of a sustainable approach to the design of their new campus, requiring easily maintained systems with minimal energy use.  As a BEST grant recipient, the school was required to meet specific sustainable and high performance building criteria – LEED for Schools Gold Certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).  This was approached through a number of strategies, including maximized building orientation, daylighting, a geoexchange system, on-site blackwater treatment, a future photovoltaic system, and the use of local or recycled materials.  Approximately 26 kBtu/sf/year energy use is predicted.  Additionally, in support of local food production in the San Luis Valley, the school committed to an innovative and ecological school program where compostable items are collected and donated daily to the local hog farm.