The spirited sounds of the Meridian High School marching band carried through the open halls of the school’s new addition to celebrate the long-awaited completion of a six-year remodel and expansion project.

Students chanted along as the band played the school’s fight song.

“I think you can tell by the students who came here today how proud our students are. Every day they walk in, the students are still in awe of this building,” Meridian High School Principal Jill Lilienkamp said. “It is very precious to us.”

The school has adopted a new mission statement, Warrior Strong, which is posted around campus. Each letter in the word “strong” stands for spirited, tradition, responsibility, ownership, integrity and grit.

“Our new building is a symbol for a new beginning at MHS and what we have stood for since 1904 and what we will continue to strive for,” Lilienkamp said.

Lilienkamp became emotional during her speech while talking about how special Meridian High School is to her.

Construction isn’t done yet at Meridian High School, but work on the upcoming projects will be less intrusive for students and staff during the school day. The district is constructing a new diesel engine automotive building, said Joe Yochum, West Ada School District’s assistant superintendent of operations. When that’s finished, the school’s auditorium is next in line for a remodel.

NEW SPACE

About 42,000 square feet have been added to the school with this project, Yochum said.

The new space features a wide, open hallway in front the school’s cafeteria with the large words “character, community and academics” on the walls and the numbers “1904,” the year Meridian High School opened, above the cafeteria.

Along another hallway, a mural depicts the school’s history and legacy. The mural is also visible from the new library on the second floor, which is surrounded by windows and features an outside seating area.

The second floor also has a large study space, where the band and choir performed during the ribbon-cutting celebration above the crowd gathered below.

Meridian High’s current building was built in 1975. During the six-phase remodel project, a new mechanical building was built outside the school first. Classrooms and hallways were remodeled and enlarged, and science labs were improved.

The project cost more than $27 million and was paid for by a plant facilities levy and by a bond passed by voters in 2015.

Students, along with the school’s faculty and staff, had to deal with six years of construction. Lilienkamp said that meant students at times had a maze to get through to get to classes. Over the summer, she dealt with loud welding outside her office and falling water.

“It helps to have a sense of humor about it,” she said.

Lilienkamp praised CM Company and Hummel Architects for working with the school during the project.

MERIDIAN NOW LARGEST HIGH SCHOOL

The addition and remodel increased the school’s capacity to 2,400 students, the largest in the West Ada School District. The school is under capacity now by about 560 students, according to the district, but more than 8,700 residential construction sites have been approved for Meridian High’s 35-square-mile attendance area, which the district projects will bring more than 2,100 new high school students when complete.

West Ada is asking voters to approve a $95 million bond on March 13 that would be used to fund a new high school in Meridian. The new high school would take some of the new students projected to be in the Meridian High attendance area, and relieve overcrowding at Eagle and Rocky Mountain high schools.

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