Learning is a lifestyle. And the community of West Prairie School District believes that rural education promotes unique learning experiences that support both community and heritage.
West Prairie was started in 2003, when Colchester and Northwestern School Districts consolidated to create the West Prairie Community Unit School District #103. The new district currently serves 600 students in four school settings. Both South Elementary and the Middle School are in Colchester, Illinois. North Elementary can be found in Good Hope, and West Prairie High School is located in Sciota.
The West Prairie Middle School facility had not experienced any significant upgrades since its original construction in 1969. Passing of the one cent sales tax in the spring of 2017 stimulated a successful community engagement campaign in 2018, and the district chose to partner with Graham & Hyde for its needed renovations.
Three strategic additions totaling 8,500 square feet include an administration area and secure entry from the new east parking lot, a cafeteria with a commercial kitchen located to the north, and classrooms with a covered exterior learning space to the south. Improvements to the half-century old facility include:
- Demolition of the entire exterior metal wall panel assembly down to the existing pre-engineered metal building frame, construction of new insulated walls and a new pre-finished insulated exterior metal wall panel system.
- Replacement of all existing window assemblies throughout with new pre-finished aluminum windows and insulated glass.
- Installation of new TPO membrane and insulation roofing systems over the existing pre-engineered metal roofing system.
- Nearly every existing interior wall was removed, spaces were re-configured and new insulated interior walls were constructed.
- 100% of all existing suspended ceiling systems were removed and replaced with new ceilings.
- The majority of the existing concrete floor slabs were retained, all existing flooring systems were removed, and new low maintenance vinyl floor coverings were installed.
- Antiquated utilities were upgraded and replaced including new underground natural gas and electrical power service, domestic water, sanitary sewer and associated lift station.
- Prior to the renovation, only selective areas were equipped with air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation was non-existent. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning is now provided with a fully operational temperature controlled forced-air and VAV system.
- All existing fluorescent light fixtures have been replaced with occupancy controlled LED lighting.
- The facility is now equipped with a fire sprinkler system and further protected with a new fire alarm system.
- Security is now provided via access control combined with a camera monitoring system.
- New furniture, lockers, telescoping bleachers, intercom, and wireless internet system have replaced the existing dilapidated equipment.
The district has long held that positive collaboration between school, parents and community is an essential piece of the public school partnership. This project was a true example of that collaboration.
The district’s academic offerings have deep foundations in agriculture, technology, STEM, social-emotional learning and restorative practices. Graham and Hyde is pleased to have led such a successful endeavor for the West Prairie CUSD #103. The new Jr/Sr High School promotes the district’s unique learning experiences supporting both their community and heritage.
Upon completion, the facility was reopened as a fully renovated 41,000 square foot Jr/Sr High School now housing grades 7 through 12. With the finished renovations, graduates of West Prairie will have even more opportunities to build their skills and mindset as they pursue jobs, careers, continuing education and a lifestyle of learning.