By Marianne Mueller


Two recent forums held at the Hononegah high school library were a starting point for determining the future of Hononegah High School.

Superintendent Lynn Gibson welcomed parents, alumni, and the overall public.  “I am in my twelfth year here and have never been any place like HHS. It is an incredible place,” lauded Gibson.

“The dome collapsed in an ice storm on Dec. 28 along with two others in the area that evening. We were going through the insurance process. It is wise to ask for an opinion on where we go from here,” said Gibson on the current state of the dome.”

“We have had tours here that were part of class reunions. One of our favorites was the class of 1939. Hononegah has great strengths which includes academics, a powerhouse athletic program, and wonderful clubs,” lauded Gibson.

Hononegah School Board President, Dave Kurlinkis reflected back on the school’s history.

“Part of the building was built in 1922. In 1920 it was known as a community high school district. Anyone who went to school in the earlier eras would know that the pronunciation of the school name was spoken as Ho- no-ne- gah.

The first classes were held in 1920 using rooms rented at the old Rockton Grade School.

“Sixty students were enrolled in those days, and today we are welcoming 500 freshmen, “said Kurlinkis.

The first Purple and Gold Festival and new construction came in the winter of 1922. Additions of football, basketball and track, a gym were built in 1955. In 1971 the metal gym was built which is still used today. Home Economics classes were introduced in 1973. 1981 brought classroom additions.

More recent editions were a new library, a new entrance, locker rooms, guidance and social studies rooms and the Information Systems Academy in 2003 and the Performing Arts Center which is 20 years old this year.

The school was granted 42 acres with the addition of a property on Kocher Street. “We were able to take a house down with the cooperation of Village President Dale Adams and at a regional level. The school also has been given access to 109 acres on McCurry Road to use for future expansion.”

Gibson spoke about opportunities for campus facilities and furthering offerings in technology. “This would help us to meet the needs of todays and tomorrows students,” said Gibson. “Many students will hold jobs that do not exist today.”

“We always want to reflect as a warm and flexible environment,” said Gibson. “Right now we hover somewhere around between 2100 and 2200 students.”

“An educational master facilities plan is needed to continue to adapt and to evolve in education which can be achieved by developing a sort of a road map.” Smart boards could be in classrooms. Future expansion and maintenance needs will be looked at with our partners,” said Gibson.

“Hononegah holds a strong legacy and we strive to give the best education and the best effort. Staff, our Board of Directors, and alumni are all part of the equation. Alumni are very important to us as they are part of our legacy.”

An architectural firm representative outlined unique concepts.

“Not a lot has changed in schools or facilities. Flexibility, technology learning and colors can be incorporated. How we were taught in the classroom is different than today’s methods.”

“We are starting to see students outside of classrooms in a more interactive environment. They are being collaborative and working together on projects. Trades, community areas and branding of schools fit into these lines.

“Why not make corridors useful; use benches and learning center such as foods labs. Today there are more media productions. Flexibility such as a band room being converted to a choir room can happen in just a matter of minutes. Bring parts of nature inside of the school building. Different shapes of rooms like squares or rectangles adapt to more open room plans. Making more nooks to preserve space leads to better collaboration. The architecture should support and inspire all the good things that a school can offer.”

Forum participants broke off into assigned classrooms. Instructors lead groups who worked together to help rate the importance of specific areas and to determine different levels of urgency of needed improvements.

Visual arts, classroom technology, infrastructure, upgrades to the PAC and band room, architecture, expanding computing resources, upgrades to the food lab, modernizing and updating classrooms, athletics and stadium upgrades, updated building signage, increased parking and a category which includes miscellaneous items such as improved curb appeal, putting in a new concession stand and to gauge whether or not a new maintenance building should be constructed.  Also taken into consideration were putting in new lockers.

Anyone who had extra ideas on anything was invited to write them on a post it notes and to bring it to the front white board.

Some of the groups said they would like to take a 30-minute walk around areas of consideration to help see the level of needs of places in question. Former football coach Tom Polaski spoke briefly about the condition of the football field. He cited concerns and reasons that the field is in need of improvements.

Information gathered at both sessions will be compiled to help determine the direction of future growth at Hononegah High School.

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