Increasing student numbers

Student numbers have surpassed 1,000 with arrival of freshman class

Increasing student numbers

Photo by: Heather Mowdy

Story by Hailey Gray

This school year, the freshmen class at Pittsburg High School has had a big effect on the school. PHS has now risen above 1000 students in the school daily.

Athletic Director Jeff Staley is starting his sixth year at PHS. As a result of numbers increasing in the school, Staley has also seen numbers increasing in all sports.

“It has meant more uniforms, more buses, more players trying out for teams, which is a great problem to have,” Staley said.  “We don’t mind that at all, but that has been the biggest challenge.”

Principal Kelynn Heardt has been at Pittsburg High School for seven years. As a result of increasing numbers, many teachers have been added to staff which has  also caused some departments to grow.

“Even with [adding staff], our average class size across the building is probably around 25 students,” Heardt said. “Where seven years ago it was closer to 15 or 20, which is a good problem to have.”

According to Junior Georgia Boekhout, numbers are crazy this year and classes are significantly different from when she was a freshman.

“I like having bigger classes because it just means that there are more people to be involved,” Boekhout said. “We offer a lot of things at Pittsburg High School and with the bigger classes I think we will be able to grow into something even more.”

The freshmen class is not the only reason numbers have expanded at PHS. This year, there have been over 75 transfers into the highschool alone, not including the elementary schools and middle school.

“We have seen an increase in the number of students coming in from other districts,” Staley said. “I take that as a compliment to Pittsburg High School because 15 or 20  years ago people would want to move away from Pittsburg High School.”

Heardt does not see this expanding as a problem. According to her, PHS does a lot of things well and that is why so many people want to come to our district.

“It creates little things that we have to find solutions for but school districts are the livelihood of a community and the fact that we continue to grow is special,” Heardt said. “That does not happen in our surrounding communities.”

According to freshman Charlie Hall, it is great having big classes because you get to be introduced to more people and build more relationships.

“It can be a little overwhelming at times to have so many people in classes,” Hall said. “But the teachers are doing a great job at keeping everything under control.”

According to Heardt, since school has started, her and the administracion have also noticed other obstacles that they have to be monitoring.

“The freshmen class makes up the majority of the student body. [The freshmen] are not all driving yet, but what happens when they are and we’re already at capacity,” Heardt said. “Those are things we have to be constantly talking about and looking at.”

In the next couple years, there will be a new FedEx company being built. This will result in more jobs, which will then bring more students moving into town and our district.

“We do know that when we get a new industry we are always going to have an influx,” Heardt said. “We’re expecting when that facility opens within the next year to two years, there are going to be more students that enroll in USD 250.”

During the pandemic, the halls were empty because people were quarantined and sick or doing online school. However, now the halls are so crowded that you can barely walk through them.

“We are one of the few communities in southeast Kansas that are growing,” Staley said. “You wear that badge with pride and with honor that we’re busting at the seams.”