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Workers ready Riverdale Ridge High School for inaugural class

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By Sean Kennedy

After nearly three years of planning and construction, the $89.5 million Riverdale Ridge High School, 13380 Yosemite St., is ready to open its doors to its first class of students next month.

“I'm really excited for this opportunity to start fresh,” said Terry Elliott, the new Riverdale Ridge principal.

The opening of Riverdale Ridge marks the end of “split” scheduling for high school students in School District 27J. Students have started and ended school at different times during the day in recent years. The staggered start times had originally been implemented to deal with overcrowded schools in the district. This year, students will go to school for just four days per week and have Mondays off.

Riverdale Ridge will host students grades 6 through 10 in its inaugural year while Roger Quist Middle School is built across the street. The high school will add 11th-grade students next year before transitioning to a traditional 9t-h through 12th-grade high school by 2020.

The campus was designed with a spacious and open feel in mind, according to Elliott. It features a variety of amenities, including a 544-seat theater, two gyms, a dance studio, a weight room, wrestling facilities and a 4,137-seat football stadium. The campus also boasts three baseball diamonds and multiple tennis courts.

“No matter what school enrichment activity you choose to participate in,” Eliott said, “We're going to be able to accommodate a lot of activities and variety.”

He elaborated on the design of the high school's campus.

“All of the classrooms are built around student agency, so there's some variety throughout the room, so throughout the course of the day it doesn't have to feel or look the same... it's getting away from a teacher-centric room to rather collaborative learning spaces for students.”

Elliott, was previously a teacher and administrator in the Jefferson County school district for 18 years after working in corporate management.

Some final details are being wrapped up at the school, while students enjoy their summer breaks. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 7, at Riverdale Ridge.