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Construction is underway on a new high school in Cedar Falls.

District officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday afternoon, an event that followed years of planning. Superintendent Andy Pattee and Cedar Falls High School principal Jason Wedgbury were joined by Board of Education members and eighth-grader students from Holmes and Peet Junior High Schools, who will be part of the first class that will graduate from the new building.

"It's certainly an exciting time. When I think of the education value of what we're going to offer the students behind us, as well as the other students, that's impressive," Wedgbury said. "It’s a building based on flexibility. Regardless of the needs we have in education, this building allows that flexibility."

The 300,000 square-foot structure is being built on a 70-acre site along West 27th Street near the UNI-Dome, property that te district purchased from the University of Northern Iowa. The new building will replace the current 240,000 square-foot high school on Division Street, which has been in use since 1954.

"As part of the first class to graduate from this new high school, we are all very thrilled, excited and immensely grateful for the opportunity for learning and making this building our own," said Eliza Kirschenmann, a Holmes Junior High School eight-grader who spoke at the groundbreaking event. "This building will be an amazing place for our activities, learning and memories."

One of Kirschenmann's fellow classmates, Hunter Russell, also spoke at the ceremony.

"On behalf of Holmes and the Class of 2025, we are very excited and grateful for this giant step in our future educational opportunities," he said. "As a student of one of the first classes to graduate from the new building in 2025, this means a lot to my fellow classmates and I. This new building will grant my fellow classmates and I with new resources for threater, music, sports and more. Future generations of Cedar Falls students will benefit from their experiences in the classrooms of the new Cedar Falls High School.

"This first step is the future of Cedar Falls," Russell added. "It will bring our community together and surely make going to school a more enjoyable experience."

Owen Brinker is an eighth-grader at Peet Junior High School, who is also in the Class of 2025. He, too, spoke at Thursday's event.

"I am very excited for our sports programs and music programs and everything that we will be able to do different at the new high school that will be better than what we can do now," Brinker said. "I am very excited to be a part of the first class that will graduate from here and for the new opportunities that I will be able to do personally. It will be an even better year than could have been for my senior year. It will be even more special with the new school and being my senior year."

Total cost of the construction project is estimated at $112.8 million, which Pattee believes will be completed for less than the expected amount. Most of the work is being financed by a $69.9 million bond issue that voters approved in June 2019.

Pattee and Board of Education member Jeff Hassman both expressed their gratitude to the community for making an investment in education.

"You can see why this is such an important matter, not only for our community but especially for our students," Pattee said. "It's remarkable, the qualities of the students that we have and the students who will directly benefit from this. We know it's so, so important."

Said Hassman: "This is the the cornerstone for our community. It will be a cornerstone for us to be able to attract and retain high-quality talent, which will help our community continue to grow. It will obviously be the cornerstone that will help to educate the next generation of leaders."

Video: Courtesy of INVISION Architecture via YouTube

Cedar Falls High School Groundbreaking - March 25, 2021

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