The students of Cedar Park High school are about to experience a highly anticipated change. No more will the lunch lines, the courtyard and the hallways be overcrowded. LISD is currently in the process of constructing a new high school, Vandergrift, which will draw students from the Steiner Ranch area including those who currently attend CPHS as freshman and all incoming freshman from Canyon Ridge Middle School. However, students who live in the area districted for Vandergrift but have siblings who attend CPHS will be allowed to choose which high school to attend.
Vandergrift High School was named after a former Leander High School attendee and A&M graduate. Lt. Matthew Ryan Vandergrift served and was killed in Iraq and in honor of his passing, Leander ISD has chosen to name the school after him.
“He’s kind of one of those students that encompasses the entire district. I’ve talked to [people that knew him] and they all commented on how much of a remarkable young man he was,” said Charlie Little, principal of Vandergrift High School.
The school’s opening will help solve the overcrowding problems at CPHS. Also, the new high school will reduce travel time between home and school for those students living in the south end of the district.
Vandergrift was scheduled to open for freshmen and sophomores in the fall of 2009. However, the school will still be under construction at that time, so students will attend Four Points Middle School until Vandergrift is ready. This means that the students transferring to the new school will go to as many as three different schools in the course of three to four years.
“[Four Points] is a brand new school; we’ll be the first ones to use it. I want to be sure that that’s clear to the kids; when we leave it will be populated by eighth graders,” Little said.
Enrolling in Cedar Park, then Vandergrift, with a year in the new Four Points Middle School, leaves a few students uninterested and unsure about the transfer. Some Cedar Park sophomores oppose the switch altogether and are choosing to stay with their older siblings at Cedar Park, which is a choice that the new high school provides.
“So the sophomores are going to be the first seniors, and there’s only [so many] schools in the district, so it’s very [uncommon] that you get to be the first class. I think that it’s going to be exciting,” Little said.
Although the new school is forcing upcoming sophomores and freshmen to changes school three times, many of the students see the change as an advantage.
“I think [Vandergrift] is pretty cool, because once we go there, we’re going to be the first graduating class. The sports are going to be more fun and less competitive, so I think it’s going to be pretty cool, “ said Chase Craddick, freshman.
Vandergrift is located off 2222 and McNeil drive. The convenience of the location proves to be an important aspect for parents of high school students.
“The parents are really excited about having a school in their community; they’re looking at the bigger picture. For the parent it’s convenient, it’s exciting for them, they see the opportunities available,” Little said.
With more opportunities for sports and new starts, some students are embracing the change and are excited to have the chance to be a part of a pioneering class.
“The first year is all about building tradition and building culture. Since we are going to be in the middle school that first year, we want to make sure that the kids have a full high school experience and don’t regret coming to Vandergrift. It’s going to be exciting. We’re going to be doing all varsity sports except football the first year,” Little said.
The athletic coordinator is Drew Sanders and the new band director will be Cedar Park’s very own Jeremy Spicer. The Vandergrift mascot is the Vipers, which won 50 percent of the vote. The school will enter as a 2A school and participate in semi-varsity sports. Unfortunately the school will not be able to host a football team until the fall of 2012 due to a UIL rule.
Charlie Little encourages all students with comments or concerns to e-mail him or to check the Vandergrift website that is now up and running.