The Gallup-McKinley County (New Mexico) district has broken ground on a new Tohatchi High School.
The Gallup Independent reports that the $68 million construction project on the Navajo Nation will replace the existing school, built in 1971. The new facility will have space for 300 students, and the new gymnasium will hold seating for 1,800 to 2,000--three times more people than the existing facility.
Out of 32 schools in the Gallup-McKinley County district, 13 are on the Navajo Nation, said Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren.
Nygren said Navajo schools aren’t just for education but for communities to use for wedding receptions, social gatherings and other community events.
The new high school will be powered by an energy-efficient geothermal system.
Roxy Flanders, the district's director of construction, says the project is estimated to be completed in December 2025. At that point, the old building will be demolished.
The new building will provide spaces for career technical education, so students will no longer have to travel to Gallup to participate in the program.
School board member Kevin Mitchell said the push to replace the 53-year-old school initially began around 1994. Gallup-McKinley received funding for the design last year.
One feature Mitchell singled out is the safety built into the design. The structure will be one building, so students will no longer have to walk outside to go between classrooms.
Bradbury Stamm Construction is the builder.