Excerpts from “A History of Wichita Public Schools Buildings”
It had become quite evident since the early 1960s that additional facilities were needed in the northwest section of the city to accommodate secondary students residing in the fast-growing Westlink-Country Acres area. The Board of Education approved the purchase of 161 acres of land at 13th Street and Tyler Road in May 1967. After years of planning and financial struggle to match capital outlay available to capital outlay necessary, Northwest High School was started in January 1975 with the appointment of architects Schaefer, Schirmer and Associates. A request was made to the City of Wichita on May 17, 1976, to annex the property for school purposes, and bids for construction were awarded for the new high school on July 12, 1976, to Law and Co. for the new high school building to contain approximately 220,000 square feet. The first principal, John Gasper, was named in the spring of 1977 to coordinate the details of construction with the academic program, to select the staff, and make other preparations necessary to open the $10.4 million high school at the beginning of the 1978-79 school year. Designed to accommodate 1,600 students, the facility opened on August 28, 1978, with 1,267 students and 111 staff, including 67 teachers, and with colors of royal blue and gold and the Grizzlies mascot. The facility housed 67 regular classrooms and 12 additional teaching areas in physical education, the auditorium, and the 11,000 square foot library. The auditorium has a seating capacity of 804, the gymnasium can seat 2,800, and the commons can accommodate 330. There is a six-lane swimming pool 25 yards long with folding bleachers for 400 spectators. The facility includes a commons area as the center for student activity. This same area serves as a dining facility, a study area, an informal social gathering place, and a foyer area for theater use. Surrounding the commons are administrative offices, instructional areas, student lockers, and food service areas. Portions of the 800-seat theater, adjacent to the commons, have folding partitions that form two large-group instructional spaces. The physical education complex is located at the terminal of one of the students streets and a large multipurpose gymnasium with seating for 2,800 on folding bleachers. A large physical education area, equivalent to three basketball courts in size, is created when the bleachers are folded back. Changes to the physical plan during the 1980s included the enclosing of some of the classrooms that were originally designed to promote open learning and student centers. During the middle 1980s, athletic fields including a football stadium, soccer, baseball and softball fields, were completed. During the 1988-89 school year, ninth grade students were added to the student body. This 33 percent increase in the student body resulted in the addition of 25 professional staff positions. Seven portable classrooms were added to accommodate the addition of the ninth grade class. These were placed on the east side of the main complex. Enrollment averages around 1400.