New High School in Thornton Opens for First Day of School

Riverdale Ridge High School in Thornton opened to students today. Photo courtesy of Saunders Construction.

THORNTON — Hundreds of excited students, parents and community members came out to celebrate the official opening of Riverdale Ridge High School (RRHS) on August 7 at a ribbon cutting ceremony. The first official day of school is August 14.

Located at 13380 Yosemite Street in Thornton, Riverdale is the third comprehensive high school within School District 27J.

The Owner’s Representative of Inline Management, architecture firm DLR Group and construction company Saunders Construction team worked together to build the new high school. 

“For over two years the construction and design teams have worked countless hours together to build this beautiful new high school,” said Caleb McNeil, 27J senior construction project manager. 

The school sits on more than 70-acres of land and the new high school is 250,000 square feet in size. The school has a two-story classroom wing and the main hallway in the school includes an administration office, performing arts auditorium, student commons/cafeteria and a main gymnasium with an attached small gym. The student capacity is 1,756 for 9th-12thgrade students. The school will open to more than 520, 9thand 10thgrade students adding an additional grade each year for the next two years. 

“The design and functionality of this building is not only very conducive to the day-to-day staff and students, but parents and the public will appreciate the openness and the conveyance of movement of the different spaces that have been created as well,” McNeil said.

Architect DLR Group designed the high school around four Small Learning Communities (SLC), each appropriately scaled to personalize the learning suite and experience for students. Modern learning spaces include labs and group work areas to support hands-on educational opportunities that prepare students for their future careers. 

“DLR Group designed this facility to promote both academic and social development, and to encourage relationship building between students and educators. These skills are crucial for student success in high school and beyond,” said DLR Group Principal Greg Cromer. 

Jodelle Senger was the lead architect on the project. “For over 10 years I have worked on and been part of the HS#3 design, which became Riverdale Ridge High School, and though I’m so excited to see it open to students and staff, it’s a bittersweet moment too,” Senger said. “I’ll always cherish the time spent designing this school, and all the great people I got to work with during that time.”

Saunders Construction employed more than 1,100 people in the construction of Riverdale Ridge and at the peak had over 300 workers on site on a typical day. “The coordination and scheduling required to construct a building of such magnitude is something that Saunders worked tirelessly for,” McNeil said.

Inline Management provided owner’s representative construction coordination services for Riverdale Ridge High School. “We are proud and pleased to turn this beautiful new high school over to School District 27J,” said Michael Hall, Inline Management. “It’s truly a thrill to see teachers and students in the building as school starts.”


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