(SD25 Press Release, May 2, 2023)
Pocatello, Idaho—It’s not every year, students and staff get a second crack at the first day of school. A fire that partially destroyed Highland High School on Friday, April 21, displaced nearly 1,600 learners and a hundred staff members. Thanks to the generosity of spirit and hospitality of Century High School, the Ram Fam was able to return to in-person school on Tuesday.
For the next four weeks, Highland will continue to share Century High School’s facilities on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The remaining portion of the school’s calendar will follow a remote learning schedule. The plan, adopted by the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District’s Board of Trustees on April 25, provides a continuation of educational services for Highland High School learners and staff through the remainder of the school year. Highland learners will have access to in-person support on a voluntary basis at the district’s Portneuf Valley Technical Education and Career Campus on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Century’s welcome of Highland began with a staff meeting on Friday, April 28 and an open house for learners and their families on Monday, May 1. Nearly nine hundred members of the Ram Fam attended the open house to better acquaint themselves with their new temporary home. Representatives from Century’s student leadership, administration, and faculty were onsite to welcome, distribute maps, answer questions, and generally, help the new, sometimes timid guests feel more at home. Throughout the nearly two-hour event, streams of learners roamed Century’s halls with their families to locate classrooms and familiarize themselves with the surroundings.
The warm welcome extended through Tuesday morning, with Century learners, administration, and faculty, joined by PCSD 25 trustees, administration and other well-wishers, joining to greet Highland learners and faculty as they arrived. While there are bound to be details to iron out, everyone seemed to settle into the new surroundings with relative ease and a positive frame of mind.
“I loved seeing all of the big smiles!” Superintendent Douglas Howell said. “The Highland community has been through a significant tragedy. The ability to bring everyone together under one roof has been one of our highest priorities.”
Sheryl Brockett described how wonderful it was to see Highland students come out to Century to share the space. “I saw nothing but smiles and gratitude all morning,” she said. “I’m so glad Highland has this opportunity to learn in person and finish the year strong.”
“The day was awesome,” said Highland Principal, Brad Wallace. “There was a line of people cheering everybody on as they walked in,” Wallace said.
“One of my teachers said it best when he described how it felt like walking into the first day of high school in High School Musical…that’s the feeling it gave,” Wallace said.
Wallace also explained how impactful it was for not only Century’s Principal, Shery Brockett, to show up with her administration, students, and faculty, but Pocatello High School also showed up to deliver breakfast burritos to Highland’s staff. The gesture was a repeat from Monday’s delivery of breakfast burritos to Century staff courtesy of the Thunder.
“This whole experience has made me think about the mission of our school district and it’s never been more clear that we truly are MORE TOGETHER,” Wallace said.
Wallace and his faculty hope to continue harnessing the same level of energy as they look forward and make plans for the future. “There’s nothing more powerful than knowing how important it is to keep kids together with their teachers face-to-face,” he said.