M-CHS breaking ground for school during solstice

Band, dignitaries
plan to be there

Golden shovels are expected to unearth the 35-acre site for the new Montezuma-Cortez High School at high noon on Saturday, the winter solstice.

“The winter solstice is regarded by many native cultures as a special day,” said Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School superintendent Alex Carter. “We wanted to have the ceremony before the New Year to celebrate the ground breaking, and it just seemed like a perfect fit.”

Both the M-CHS Marching Band and the Red Sky drum ensemble will provide music, and local school, city and Ute Mountain dignitaries will give remarks at the groundbreaking on Dec. 21. Hot cider and cookies will be available.

The new $33.9 million school, located behind Walmart on Sligo Street, is expected to open in the fall of 2015.

Albuquerque-based architectural firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini is designing the new two-story 152,50-square-foot schoolhouse. The structure is expected to achieve Gold LEED Certification.

A Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant is financing 54 percent of the construction cost, and construction bids will be released Jan. 22. A local bond will finance the remainder of the project.

Earlier this year, an archaeological consultant surveyed the 35-acre site and discovered what is believed to be a set of room blocks and a pit structure from the Pueblo II era, AD 900 to 1150. Located on the northeast corner of the proposed school site, the ancient ruins will not be disturbed and could potentially be used as an outdoor archaeology classroom.

The current Montezuma-Cortez High School serves approximately 650 students. The new school is designed to accommodate 725 students.

To learn more about the design process of the Montezuma-Cortez High School, visit www.dpsdesign.org/mchs.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com