By Daisy Garcia-Montoya
KIPP KC (Knowledge is Power Program) high school students and family will be in for a treat this fall when they return to classes at their new home campus, KIPP Legacy High School, located at 1522 Winchester Ave. After breaking ground Spring 2022, the new legacy campus is set to be ready and open for new students beginning this upcoming academic school year.
Since the addition of high school grades two years ago, KIPP’s high school has been located in two different buildings, in KIPP’s elementary building, and at the Boys and Girls Club location, due to not having a campus for high school students only. Principal Joshua Swartzlander said that being able to provide a separate facility for high school students will allow the school to continue to build on its value of homeplace.
“One of our values for our high school is homeplace, which comes from a 1990 Bell-Hooks essay about spaces feeling affirming, especially for people of color, which the majority of our students are. It’s been an interesting challenge to build that homeplace in different locations,” Swartzlander said. “I think we did build a homeplace for kids and our culture is pretty strong. I’m really proud of that and those relationships we’re going to bring to the new building, but it’s kind of like a fresh start, this is our permanent home.”
Swartzlander said that with the new sense of permanence, the school will be able to focus on growing the classrooms and extra-curriculars, which was a difficult task before due to constant movement and being in locations they could not build upon.
The high school has been adding an additional grade level each year – with 11th grade being the newest addition – and will be serving ninth through 11th grades for the 2023-2024 academic school year.
Filled with natural light, the new 37,154-square-foot campus will be complete with a new cafeteria, auditorium, chemistry and science labs, lockers, weight room and study spaces for students to use.
Vice Principal Amanda McRae said that two of the departments that have most stood out for KIPP are the athletics and performing arts departments, and the new building will allow them to truly develop the programs further.
“Now we have a stage and a band room with the appropriate acoustics, we are just excited to share those things with students so that they can really grow their craft and experience and learn about not only band or performing arts, but also about themselves and see if that is something that they want to pursue,” McRae said.
The $15.4 million investment was approved for the 1522 Winchester Avenue location after seeing how the school could become integrated into a new community and build on the needs of quality education seats in an area where it was not prevalent, administration said.
McRae said that being able to be centrally located in a neighborhood is one of things she is most looking forward to as the school transitions. It will allow for opportunities to collaborate and build relationships with the community and its members.
Recently, administrators received an email from a community member that shared his concern about excessive speed near the school and suggested administrators advocate for speed bumps to ensure the safety of students and pedestrians during school hours. Since then, crosswalks have been added with the hopes of the addition of speed bumps soon.
“We’ve been located in a very industrial area so this is different and exciting, to actually be embedded in a neighborhood,” McRae said. “Even if some households don’t have students, we want that community support and we want them to come to our home games, and we want to start a community garden. It’s about the value we bring to the community.”
As the new school year approaches, McRae and Swartzlander said that they are looking forward to welcoming the family and students to their new building.
“I’m excited for students to have a landing space and have a home,” McRae said. “There’s a lot of families I’ve been in touch with and have built strong relationships with so I’m excited to be a part of this for them. We’ve been through a lot together so we are looking forward to having them be able to come home.”
For parents interested in the open enrollment charter school, more information can be found at www.kippendeavor.org/enroll.