ROLESVILLE — Ericka Lucas, principal of brand new Rolesville High School, had an important message for the students and parents who packed into the school’s auditorium last week for an open house.
She knows that they may have spent years expecting to attend high school in Wake Forest or Wendell. They may even have spent their freshman year at a school in one of those towns.
But starting now, she told them, they’re Rams.
“We are building our own culture,” Lucas said to the crowd, who clapped politely at first but eventually let the cheers and whoops fly. “We are Rolesville!”
On Monday, more than 650 students will walk into the four-story school, the first with that many levels in Wake County. At full capacity, the school can hold 2,262 students, and it is a prototype for future high schools.
Some critics think Wake schools could have built the new high school for less than its $75 million budgeted cost or that it will prove too large. Those issues are likely to remain in the spotlight as the debate over a new school bond heats up.
But at the open house, students had a far more immediate concern than future school construction: how to get to their first-period classrooms.
The students worked their way through an abbreviated schedule, with a few minutes to meet each of their teachers and find out a bit more about their courses.
In one wing of the school, math teacher Lauren Winstead showed students and parents her website, talked about her classroom’s interactive white board and answered questions about what students could expect from her.
Cassidy Fuller, 14, an incoming ninth-grader from Zebulon Middle School, said she’s “excited but nervous” to be headed into high school. Excited because she’ll be meeting new people in a new place. Nervous because it’s a big change.
Fuller, who rates math as her best subject, left Winstead’s classroom optimistic that she will have a good year.
Winstead said she is delighted to be in a newly constructed school that’s filled with the latest technology, and she is ready to get to know the students she will be teaching this year.
“I really couldn’t have asked for a bigger blessing,” said Winstead, who is undergoing a career change herself – moving from a job in local government to her first year of teaching.
In its inaugural year, Rolesville High will have only ninth and 10th grades. It will add an 11th grade for the 2014-15 school year and a 12th grade for 2015-16.
The 349,000-square-foot building sits on a 74-acre site on East Young Street in Rolesville. At its core, the building features walls of floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on courtyards at the front and rear of the school. A gymnasium and auditorium are located in a wing on the school’s first floor, and the cafeteria is divided into four units, with one located on each floor of the school.
Lucas, the principal, said that as she prepares for the new school year, she’s most excited about getting teachers and students settled into the building.
“We’ve worked really hard to make sure everything is ready,” she said.