ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) The Roanoke County Public Schools Construction Committee has approved the 27-month phase-in plan for the renovation of Cave Spring High School.
The plan approved in a meeting Tuesday afternoon calls for 9th graders to stay at Cave Spring Middle School, and 10th through 12th grade students to remain on the high school campus.
The renovation project generated strong reactions from parents and students after an earlier proposal recommended sending Cave Spring students to Hidden Valley High School for a year.
Cave Spring High School principal Steve Spangler said the freshman at the middle school will not be forgotten.
"They need to know, all those kids at the middle school actually are knights," he said, referring to their mascot.
Spangler said they'll work to keep them involved and send teachers and administrative staff to them.
"We'll make them feel like they still are knights but they're gonna be in an environment that they've been used to for the last three years," he said.
Some of those knights, including the junior class, even started a petition to stay at the school, gathering more than 800 signatures at last count.
Junior class president Andrew Ditmore said he thinks this plan will go well if it's done correctly and wished it was a plan that was considered beforehand. Ditmore said being able to stay on campus will help students retain their identity.
"As a knight I've been raised as a Knight, that's what I've wanted to be since I've been a little kid and it feels great that my senior year I get to be knight," Ditmore said.
He said he thought the students involved in petitioning the change would be laughed at and told to let the adults handle it.
School board member Mike Ray said while big factors like safety and cost were at play, student voices were a factor in the final decision.
"Certainly it's important to hear because they're gonna live it everyday," Ray said. "And they're gonna be in the construction and go through this, especially some of your seniors who are rising seniors."
Now administration can get to the nitty gritty, like orchestrating band practice and figuring out how they'll feed students while the cafeteria is closed next fall.
Spangler said he's confident it'll work.
"Will we run into some kinks?" he said. "Sure, but we'll work our way through those challenges."
Ditmore said they're happy to help.
"I want them to know that as a student body we're here to help them in any way we can to help along with the process because we're just so grateful for them letting us be able to stay here," he said.