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Vista Ridge Expansion Celebrates Milestone with Topping-Out Event

VRHS topping out ceremony beam rise

At 3:00 p.m. Thursday, February 1, a steel beam rested securely at the base of the east-facing wall of a work in progress. Behind it, the foundation, some exterior walls and most of the steel skeleton that will support the new Career and Technical Education wing going up on the south end of Vista Ridge High School. 

tom Payne VRHS“When you see the beam go into place, and we have all of our students that have signed the beam, we’re really taking ownership as a Vista Ridge community over the new opportunity that we're having in the CTE wing. So just seeing this next stage, seeing what it's going to look like, it's extraordinarily exciting,” said VRHS Principal Tom Payne 


Signed beam

The POWER Zone and VRHS welcomed a group of guests and VIPs to a topping-out event, during which members of NUNN Construction would hoist the final steel beam and secure it to the existing framework. The topping-out tradition symbolically marks the completion of one significant phase of construction on the expansion to the VRHS campus. 

Among the guests were Colorado Springs City Councilmember (Dist. 6), Mike O’Malley, Board of Education President, Lori Thompson, Peter Hilts, D49 superintendent, along with project managers from NUNN Construction and Hollis and Miller, the architect firm which designed the new learning space. 

Colorado Springs City Councilmember Mike O’Malley

Colorado Springs City Councilmember Mike O’Malley added his signatures to the final steel beam during a topping-out event at VRHS Thursday, Feb. 1.

Dr. Lou Fletcher“I'll tell you, it's amazing to be a student at 49 right now because we're going from the things we had in the 20th century and we're a quarter of a way into the 21st century. And they're getting to build it. They're getting to build what the future looks like and it is getting to be there now. On the selfish side, if we get some of these kids back as teachers, one day, they'll be able to tell those students that ‘I remember when I was a student here, I remember when there was no addition, and I remember when I signed the beam for that addition.’ So it's making sure that we have those stories that go on and on and on that link back to this moment, that link back to our vision for District 49,” said Dr. Lou Fletcher, Executive Director of Facilities & Operations.

Becki Sims, VRHS assistant principal

Becki Sims, VRHS assistant principal, adds her signature to the final steel beam during a topping-out event at VRHS Thursday, Feb. 1. 

Tracking a completion date in the fall of 2024, the new wing will offer an expanded catalog of choices for all learners. A primary purpose for the new space is to support subjects in CTE program-based learning. In addition, the campus expansion will contain 18 classrooms and boost capacity by approximately 450 students.  

VRHS topping out ceremony beam and tree

“This is about providing relevant, applicable education to our students. So we're starting them in middle school. They're going to have pathways, they're going to have direction, and they're going to know through different testing, ICAP testing, talking with their teachers exactly what direction they want to go,” Payne said. “And of course, it'll be flexible to change as they go through high school. But I think it's really exciting to marry yourself with your middle schools to be able to bring them through this whole process.”

Peter Hilts and Greg Porter

D49 Superintendent Peter Hilts and Greg Porter from Hollis and Miller architects watch as a construction crew secured the final steel beam to the VRHS expansion during a topping-out event at VRHS Thursday, Feb. 1. 

At the conclusion of a brief ceremony, members of the audience added their signatures to the beam. In the days leading up to the event, VRHS invited students to do the same, creating a permanent connection between the building and the students who will get first access to the new learning space. 

Construction worker on beam

With the final beam in place, work is on pace to meet the planned completion date of fall of 2024. 

With the final signatures in place, a crane operator hoisted the beam to the top of the framework where two members of the crew bolted it into place. And at 3:35 p.m., Thursday, February 1, the team of builders pressed forward on an exciting new addition to the VRHS campus.

Payne said, “The students are really seeing it as their place, their home to find this opportunity. One of them was saying that this is fantastic, that I had the opportunity to open the doors, since she was a freshman, but to open the doors to a wing that's going to be here for decades.”

VRHS topping out ceremony

For more on the project, see the VRHS Expansion page.