Students take first steps at new DHS |

Students take first steps at new DHS

Douglas High School students start the new school year on Monday morning.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Even at the end of a long first day, and the start of a new era at Douglas High School, Principal Marty Swisher was all smiles Monday afternoon.

A new era, that is, with the re-introduction of the first freshman class at the high school since 1994.

“It was a great first day,” Swisher said as he spoke in the school’s commons area. “Having the freshmen here just seemed like the way it was supposed to be.

“The freshmen and sophomores, I think they came in and just fit right in with where we are,” added Swisher, who is now in his 11th year as principal at Douglas.

Roughly 1,700 students in four grades are enrolled at the high school.

One visible addition out front of the school is the column entryway that bears the greeting: “Douglas High School, Home of the Tigers.” The new Lisa Noonan STEM building in front of the school was also ready for its first day of classes.

“We’ve got a few things that we’re still trying to hammer out,” Swisher said, adding that he toured the building Monday morning with Superintendent Teri White. “We visited classes this morning, and it was great to see kids in there and working on math problems, so it was a great opening for that building especially.”

One of the school’s additions is a permanent home for the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program. Since its inception in 2007, the program had been housed in a portable building on the north side of the campus.

The new facility offers two classrooms, storage and office areas as well as a new 10-meter indoor shooting range that will allow Douglas more room to host two- or three-team rifle matches.

The JROTC program is still in the process of unpacking and moving into the facility.

“We’ve had our program for eight years now, and the commitment we made was that would have a permanent facility, and this is it,” Swisher said. “And I’m proud of it. It’s going to be great for kids for a lot of years.”

Mark Angelo, who in his fourth year with the JROTC program, is looking forward to serving as battalion commander in the new facility.

“Being able to have a new room is very exciting,” Angelo said, referring to the move from the portable building. “It’s much better being in here. This is much closer to everything else. Everything is much tighter and now we have a rifle range in the building so we don’t have to walk outside to go to it.”

The coming year is promising more excitement, added Angelo, who is also taking a calculus class in the STEM building. There were some other adjustments involved with the first day of school, overall.

“Since it was the first day with freshmen and sophomores never having been here before, it was very crowded and a lot of people really didn’t know where they were going,” he said. “But I think over the next few weeks it will simmer down, and we’ll get into a routine.”