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Phoenix Moving for 2019-2020 Year
Linda Mah
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Phoenix Moving for 2019-2020 Year

Building to Undergo Extensive Construction

Phoenix High School will have a new address for the 2019-2020 school year, while its home building undergoes a $6.4 million expansion.

Phoenix will relocate to the building located at 3333 S. Westnedge Ave., which currently houses the Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program. The programs will share the space — but maintain completely separate programming — for the upcoming school year. The school will be maintaining a closed campus at the temporary location.

Voters approved the funds for the expansion in the 2018 bond. The $6,412,656 project includes four classrooms, a gym, locker rooms, restrooms, and a new counseling center.

“Space is important,” Hill said. “The building was initially built for babies and toddlers, so we’re fitting big kids in that space.”

Teachers packed the last day of school and work began immediately to demolish storage sheds at the rear of the property, said Phoenix Principal Mark Hill.

That space on the east side of the current structure will be used for four new classrooms, a student center, and a gymnasium that will seat 400 people. The building will have a new heating, air conditioning and ventilation system, and already has new windows.

The construction will also create a counseling center to house therapy, socio-emotional supports, a behavior specialist, and guidance counselor.

Currently, it’s difficult to find space to deliver those services in a way that protects students’ privacy, Hill said.

“We have to be very intentional about preserving their privacy, and it can be problematic in the tight quarters,” he said. “Also, because things are cramped, there is little room for students who need quiet space during the day. The additional space will give the kids more room to maneuver.”

Hill is especially excited about adding a gymnasium to the school. Phoenix offers basketball and cheerleading as extracurriculars, but the students have not had a stable home for the programs. At various times they have practiced and held games at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts and at the South Westnedge location. But, that makes transportation — and thus participation — difficult for some students.

The gym will allow the school to host home games and tournaments and help create a stronger sense of community around the school. That will make the overall Phoenix program stronger, he said.

“Many students come to Phoenix because they want a smaller environment, but we want them to know they are in high school and to have the same high school remembrances as other students,” Hill said. “So we have spirit weeks and honor assemblies. And, sports are a big part of high school.”

The school also works to allow students to play on teams at Loy Norrix and Kalamazoo Central high schools. They also offer activities like yearbook, class trips and Grad Bash.

Because the staff will be in transition over the summer, those interested in enrolling in Phoenix, should call KPS Student Services at (269) 337-0161 for more information. Orientation will follow in the fall.

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