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History of Liberty Common High School (Part 2)

History of Liberty Common High School (Part 2)
Mrs. Michelle Provaznik and Headmaster Bob Schaffer, Founding Parents
The central question was obvious: Now that Liberty has the authorization to expand, can it afford to actually do it given the dire financial situation and the volatile economy at hand?
 
Convinced there is no greater priority than the education of their children and buoyed by the strong support for a high school among the Liberty parent population, the Board decided to go forward with the plan. Though optimistic, the Board instructed the administration to build a high school while pinching every penny in order to make the finances work. Salaries for all Liberty personnel were frozen until further notice.     
    
Peter Kast, who negotiated and secured Liberty's flagship elementary-school building, answered the school's newest call for help in finding a suitable building; and the search for a new high-school facility was on.
 
What shall the high school be called? After convening student-focus groups and consulting the parent population, it was decided to stick with a brand name that carried with it a nationwide reputation for academic excellence: Liberty Common High School.
 
The school would offer a classical, liberal-arts curriculum building upon the Core Knowledge Sequence and it would accentuate math, science, and engineering. Committees of parents were convened to further develop the curriculum and the course schedules.
 
Director of the Elementary School Casey Churchill organized the move from LCS to LCHS and the expansion at LCS. It was an enormous undertaking of brilliant coordination. 
 
Public meetings were held to describe the school, its goals, and plans. Administrators described the kinds of teachers they would hire, and who from the current school would go to the high-school building. A relaxed high-school Dress Code was developed and elated ninth graders were allowed to try it out for their second semester at the old Liberty Elementary School.
 
The House System was developed. Eighth and ninth graders committed to attending LCHS were assigned to one of three Houses: Domus Scientiae, Domus Virtutis or Domus Prudentiae. They began working on House projects such as House crests, logos, mottos, and events.
 
Still, one question loomed over all of these discussions and activities: Where would the new high school be located? Hopes for a high-school property adjacent to the current school were fading. Visions of a single Liberty campus were becoming dim. All options considered turned into dead ends. The school was now well into 2010 – the year the high school was scheduled to open, but there was no building in hand.
 
One mile south of the elementary school stood a building that had been occupied by a defunct charter high school for a few years and had been abandoned for a few more years since. Would that building work?
Peter Kast approached the building's owners and obtained a key allowing the Board to wander through the dusty vacant facility. After the walkthrough, the Board huddled in the parking lot looking upon the abandoned school as the winter sun set over its roof. The group began mulling numbers and options. If the price came down, with some remodeling, and with additional classroom expansion over a few more years, this location could work. The Board decided to pursue the building at 2745 Minnesota Drive, and to continue searching for other options.
 
It quickly became apparent the poor economy looming over Liberty’s expansion was simultaneously working to the school’s advantage as a buyer in the depressed real estate market. The price of the building was, by the month, dropping further below its original asking price. With the help of an investment corporation FCCS, LLC, headed up by local developer and charter-school backer Troy McWhinney, a solution materialized allowing Liberty Common School to lease the building and purchase it a few years later.
 
Tenancy stretched Liberty’s budget to its limit, but the numbers added up – barely. With solid enrollment and aggressive fundraising, the Board believed it could make ends meet.
 
A Letter of Intent was signed in February 2010. Once an agreement was finalized, the landlord opened the building right away so parents could take a tour. From that moment, excitement punctuated all the work and countless hours required to get the building ready to open by August 18th of 2010.   
 
Teachers needed to be hired. After attending numerous job fairs and accepting applications from around the world, a first-rate team of LCHS educators was assembled.
 
The high school’s roster of inaugural instructors was announced: Jared Dybzinski, Dr. Charles Hubbeling, Dawn Karr, Marques Kem, William Kranz, Kay Lannen, Jerry Lavin, Torgun Lovely, Duane Staton, Dr. Barbara Werner, Ken Vetter, Sarah Aguilar-Francis, Megan Ellis, Connie Logsdon, Dave Lunn, Janice Garland, Susan Porter, Donny Reeves, Wade Torgeson and Erin Voorhies. 
 
The Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education, former U.S. Congressman, former State Senator, and founding Liberty parent Bob Schaffer, who had been hired as project manager for the high-school expansion, was named Director of Secondary Schools. Along with Liberty’s headmaster, the school’s new administration would direct the opening and operation of Liberty Common High School. (In 2011, Schaffer was named LCHS principal, and in 2018 Liberty's headmaster).
 
Architects and contractors worked feverishly throughout the summer remodeling the building. The administration shopped at auctions for used school furnishings and equipment.
 
Director of Elementary Education (later named principal) Casey Churchill orchestrated “the big move.” Classroom supplies and furniture were boxed up, labeled, and carted off to the new school.
 
Hordes of volunteers showed up (on what always turned out to be the hottest summer days) to unload trucks and set up classrooms. New lockers were ordered and would eventually line the empty hallways (The lockers did not arrive until two months into the school year. There was no carpet in the school until the second semester).
 
New lunchroom tables were ordered, too. There was no turning back now. LCHS would open on time with its leading class of 10th graders. In three years, these pioneering students would become Liberty's first graduating class— the inaugural Class of 2013.
 
The night before LCHS was set to open, students grades 7–10 came together at Liberty Elementary School for the last time. Elementary Principal Churchill made remarks encouraging the excited students assembled there, and then lit a ceremonial lantern that was carried by student leaders at the head of a 2.2-mile-long procession along the Poudre River then West up to the high ground upon which Liberty Common High School sits.
 
The lantern carried the flame of Liberty's first "Torch Trek." The traditional event has been reenacted by Liberty students each year since.
  • History of Liberty Common School