Breaking news: ‘Walnut Grove’ high school to open ahead of schedule, proposed zoning announced

District students, staff react to decision

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Kalyani Rao

AP Macroeconomics and AP European History teacher Michael Craft watches a video update on Walnut Grove at his desk. Craft anticipates the opening of the school, and believes it could be a good opportunity for Prosper High School students and staff. “As a teacher, my priority is that I have the opportunity to teach the things that I love the most and be able to share that love with students,” Craft said. “I love Prosper High School, but with the changing dynamic and the number of kids (growing), there’s no question that we need a third school. If there’s a legitimate opportunity to teach classes there that I have the opportunity to teach here, (that would be great).”

Kalyani Rao, Executive Editor-in-Chief

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As decided by the Prosper ISD Board of Trustees and district administration, Walnut Grove High School will open in fall 2023 for grades 9 – 12, a year ahead of schedule. The high school should relieve overcrowding at Prosper High School, which now hosts around 3,800.

Pictured above are the zoning guidlines of Rockhill HS, Prosper HS and the newly announced zoning guidelines for Walnut Grove. Walnut Grove’s zoning area is positioned in between and slightly above the other two currently existing high schools. Current juniors will have the choice to attend their current school or Walnut Grove after attendance boundaries are determined. Current sophomores, freshmen and 8th graders will be rezoned to Walnut Grove after attendance boundaries are approved by the Board of Trustees. (Prosper ISD)

The district has just released proposed zoning guidelines as of Sept. 30, and will gather feedback from affected families through meetings and online forms about attendance zones and student choice in moving schools Oct. 6 – 13. A board meeting will be held Oct. 17 to present the community feedback and any changes in zoning recommendations. Then the board will decide final Walnut Grove attendance zones. The new principal for Walnut Grove’s first year will be named Oct. 21. More information about the zoning decisions can be found here.

Pictured above is the proposed zoning district for Walnut Grove. Among the areas included in the zoning are the neighborhoods Liliana, Frontier Estates, Lakes of LaCima, Mustang Lakes and Preston Hills. A board meeting will be held Oct. 17 to present the community feedback and any changes in zoning recommendations. Then the board will decide final Walnut Grove attendance zones. (Prosper ISD)

Sophomore Addison Hotard said Walnut Grove will offer an opportunity to create a more comfortable environment for Prosper ISD students.

“I think it could be good to have a new school,” Hotard said. “It’ll be a little stressful, as I do like it here at PHS, but there will be benefits, like less hall traffic.”

Eighth graders, freshmen and sophomores in the 2022 – 2023 school year will be rezoned to Walnut Grove after attendance boundaries are determined. Current juniors will have the choice to attend their current school or Walnut Grove once boundaries are set for 2023 – 2024.

Board President Drew Wilborn said the student experience matters in the decision-making process.

As a teacher, my priority is that I have the opportunity to teach the things that I love the most and be able to share that love with students. I love Prosper High School, but with the changing dynamic and the number of kids (growing), there’s no question that we need a third school.”

— Michael Craft, AP European History and AP Macroeconomics teacher

“The Board of Trustees is grateful for the district administration and its vision to ensure that the student experience in our schools stays in the forefront of planning and construction,” Wilborn said. “Prosper ISD is the fastest growing district in the state, probably the nation, and we stay committed to making sure that our students still receive the best education that Prosper has to offer.”

The campus will consist of a 530,000-square-foot, two-story academic building and a 75,000-square-foot multi-purpose building. The program consists of academic areas, fine arts, athletics, and career-and-technology-education spaces. These spaces are supported by library and food service commons centrally located in the building. The fine arts area will house a 1,000-seat auditorium. A 2,200-seat arena will house athletic activities and other events. The outdoor areas will include a band practice area as well as football, track, baseball, softball and tennis facilities.

Walnut Grove will have 62 core classrooms supported by computer labs and 14 science labs. CTE areas include business labs, computer labs, forensic science, journalism, fashion, culinary arts, broadcast, digital media, medical tech, esports, architecture, interior design, construction science, animal science, horticulture, engineering and robotics.

According to the district website, the design for Walnut Grove High School is “inspired by a Classical Revival style of architecture.” Front porch entries topped with pediments lead into a modern interior that incorporates a two-story volume with natural light. The building is set to face parallel to First Street.

“I know that Walnut Grove will provide an outstanding place of learning and exploration for our students, in the long tradition of excellence of Prosper and Rock Hill high schools,” superintendent Dr. Holly Ferguson said. “The opening of this state-of-the-art high school will provide our students with more opportunities to connect through academics, fine arts, organizations, and athletics.  The future is bright in Prosper ISD as we continue to celebrate the opportunity for growth.”

Current students at PHS said Walnut Grove will be an important tool to relieve high school overcrowding.

I know that Walnut Grove will provide an outstanding place of learning and exploration for our students, in the long tradition of excellence of Prosper and Rock Hill high schools.The opening of this state-of-the-art high school will provide our students with more opportunities to connect through academics, fine arts, organizations, and athletics.  The future is bright in Prosper ISD as we continue to celebrate the opportunity for growth.”

— Holly Ferguson, Superintendent of PISD

“The hallway and cafeteria traffic will definitely be better,” senior Maggie Lair said. “Less people might have to go to the portables.”

Hotard said Walnut Grove will offer benefits, but she indicates she’d rather stay at PHS.

“Underclassmen might be able to have a slightly better experience (at Walnut Grove) as they will most likely know a lot of the other kids, but I would rather stay here. There is more guaranteed stuff, like (staying in) theater. PHS feels like home.”

AP Macroeconomics and AP European History teacher Michael Craft says that Walnut Grove is necessary, and could be a good place for both teachers and students, as long as they are provided with some leeway as to whether they want to stay at Prosper High School or not.

“As a teacher, my priority is that I have the opportunity to teach the things that I love the most and be able to share that love with students,” Craft said. “I love Prosper High School, but with the changing dynamic and the number of kids (growing), there’s no question that we need a third school. If there’s a legitimate opportunity to teach classes there that I have the opportunity to teach here, (that would be great). They owe it to every teacher to be in the place where they’re the happiest and where they can serve the students best.”

Reporter’s note: Some of the information above was gathered from PISD Communications and district press releases.