Excitement building at new Liberty High School in North Liberty

Public invited to tour $75 million facility during open house Saturday

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NORTH LIBERTY — With the first day of school less than two weeks away, Scott Kibby says the excitement is mounting at Liberty High School in North Liberty.

“It’s super exciting,” said Kibby, the school’s principal. “I’m ready for the kids to come.”

Officials at the new $75 million school — the third high school in the Iowa City Community School District — are preparing to welcome more than 700 students on Aug. 23 — 34 seniors, 109 juniors, 282 sophomores and 293 freshmen.

Before they do, they’re giving the community a chance to see and tour the 262,911-square-foot building that includes 40 traditional classrooms; two gymnasiums; a media center; 830-seat auditorium; band, orchestra and choir rooms; two art rooms; a shop area; a special education suite; and a multipurpose space where students will eat.

An open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the school, 1400 S. Dubuque St., near the intersection of Dubuque Street and North Liberty Road.

There will be a program beginning at 2 p.m., including the official ribbon cutting, followed by student-led tours of the building.

The public is welcome.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” said Kibby, a 31-year educator who has spent the past five years with Iowa City schools. He said he has been deeply involved in helping see the project through.

“It’s been fun choosing your colors and having your voice heard when talking to architects. I got to play homeowner.”

Kibby said there’s been so much work in planning the new facility that he often forgets some of the decisions he has made.

“I called our facilities guy and told him the stone in the commons area is absolutely beautiful,” said Kibby. “He said, ‘You should like it, you picked it out.’ ”

Home of the Lightning, Kibby said there already has been plenty of activity on campus, especially as many students participating in fall sports — ninth and 10th grade football, volleyball, cross-country, golf and swimming and diving — as well as extracurricular activities like the music programs, have begun practicing.

The school colors are black, silver and purple.

Outside the school on Thursday, landscapers were busy with finishing touches and inside, crews were making final adjustments like checking to see that doors properly open and close.

Kibby said supplies and furniture still are arriving at the school, but the punchlist is down to “the small stuff.”

“If we needed to have classes tomorrow, we could,” he said.

Liberty High is beginning the school year with 44 teachers and a total staff of more than 80 people, Kibby said.

He said juniors and seniors at West High who live in the Liberty High boundaries were given the choice of finishing at West High or transferring to the new high school.

As it stands, the school can accommodate 1,000 students. The Iowa City school district Facilities Master Plan includes plans to add another 20 classrooms to the school in 2022, Kibby said, adding that plan relies on the outcome of a $190 million bond issue being put to voters on Sept. 12.

“Right now, we’re shaped like a ‘U’ and if we expand, we’ll be closed in and be a box,” he said.

If You Go

What: Liberty High open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony

When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Liberty High School, 1400 S. Dubuque St., North Liberty

Info: iowacityschools.org

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