New high school opens, impacts population at Prosper

The Prosper Independent School District contains more than 28,000 students. This school year at Prosper High started with a population of around 3,400 students. “If they hadn’t opened Walnut Grove, we would have had well over 4,400 this year, assistant Principal Dr. Lute Croy said. That was the main purpose, to alleviate the strain.
The Prosper Independent School District contains more than 28,000 students. This school year at Prosper High started with a population of around 3,400 students. “If they hadn’t opened Walnut Grove, we would have had well over 4,400 this year,” assistant Principal Dr. Lute Croy said. “That was the main purpose, to alleviate the strain.”
Anisha Mandem
Reading Time: 5 minutes

It’s 4:10 p.m., students rush out the doors to the buses and cars, and drivers already sit at a standstill in the parking lot. With the district’s new Walnut Grove High School opening, Prosper students looked forward to less-populated hallways and smaller classroom sizes. However, as the bells ring for lunches and passing periods, the crowd still remains.

The Prosper Independent School District contains more than 28,000 students. This school year at Prosper High started with a population of around 3,400 students – a drop from the 3,800 last year. Students east of Coit Road started attending Walnut Grove Aug. 9. This is the third high school to open in PISD. Administrators broke ground on a Aug. 4.

“It’s not a huge difference, but it is big enough to where you can see it in the hallways and classrooms,” assistant Principal Dr. Lute Croy said. “If they hadn’t opened Walnut Grove, we would have had well over 4,400 this year. So, that was the main purpose, not necessarily to drop us down to a perfect number, but to alleviate the strain.”

The class of 2028 has the largest population at PHS compared to other grade levels with the incoming freshmen class being counting more than 1,000 students. The 2024 senior class has the second largest population due to most seniors having and making the choice to stay at PHS. 

“Their (Walnut Grove) senior class is only maybe 200 students since most seniors decided to stay here,” Croy said. “They all drive, and the parking lot is always filled up, so there isn’t much change from last year.”

Students walk to class during passing period on the first day of school. Junior Sarah Goddard said she hasn’t seen much of a difference in population. “If anything, classes seem bigger,” Goddard said. “Passing periods are busier than they’ve ever been before.”(Erica Deutsch)

The fourth school, Richland High School, is set to open in two years. Croy said he hopes Richland will balance out populations even more. 

“I like the model we use,” Croy said. “We’re not just opening schools that are just good enough, but schools that properly serve the students. 

Every campus has a unique CTE offering as well as state-of-the-art facilities for athletics and fine arts.

“It was just the foresight of knowing ‘Hey, we’re not going to build 20 of these, but we’re going to build just five or six of these really incredible schools’,” Croy said.“It’s never going to be less than.”

Junior Sarah Goddard, a student driver, as well as a student at PHS for the past three years, said that she has not seen a significant change in the population. 

“If anything, classes seem bigger, the parking lots fill up faster, and passing periods are busier than they’ve ever been before,” Goddard said. “This might be due to the fact that we have a lot of students who have never been to PHS before and are still getting used to the unspoken rules of the hallways. But, there seem to be so many more people, especially in regard to those who don’t know the “rules” of passing period.”

These rules include not standing in the middle of the hallways, keeping pace with everybody else, not blocking students who need to cut across the flow to move through, and walking on the correct side of the hallway. Goddard said that even getting from class to class is a struggle and takes much more time than it should.

“We didn’t lose many people to Walnut Grove,” Goddard said. “And the numbers that we did lose were quickly replaced and added to with incoming students.”

Parking lots also manage to fill up fairly quickly, and students arriving later than 8:30 a.m. will have a difficult time finding a spot. 

“​​When going to school, traffic usually starts to get busy around 7:40 – more than an hour before school starts,” Goddard said. “This is most likely due to people going to work, parents dropping their kids off at school (both PHS and RMS), and students driving themselves.”

Roads such as Coleman and Prosper Trail get backed up during this time. 

According to Goddard, those leaving as soon as school gets out should expect to encounter dangerous and intense traffic.

English teachers Emily Koonce and Kirsten Crawford said they noticed that their class sizes are significantly smaller this year.

“Last year I had 32-36 students per class period, however, this year my class size average is about 25-30,” Crawford said. “I think that it’s great that Walnut Grove opened as Prosper ISD is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, and now both PHS and RHHS are no longer overcrowded.” 

Both teachers shared the experience of saying ‘goodbye’ to old students and welcoming new ones. 

“It’s always sad to have students leave PHS because of the rezoning that a new high school opening requires, but I’m thrilled for my students to get new opportunities at a new campus,” Koonce said. “While the opening of WGHS didn’t greatly affect PHS numbers, I’m excited to see how the fourth high school will affect student populations.”

And while new schools – and teachers – are entering the district, staff and administrators are confident in PISD’s quality of education. 

“We’re very fortunate that people still want to work in Prosper,” Croy said. “Teaching is a very hard profession, and there are some districts where teachers aren’t supported or are asked to do a lot more. And, we ask our teachers to do a lot.” 

Koonce said she looks forward to working with smaller classes.

“The standard of education/classes for students have not changed,” Koonce said. “However, studies show that smaller class sizes are one of the greatest factors in a student’s quality of education. This year we can work more closely with our students.”

While the opening of Walnut Grove has had an effect on the Prosper community, according to Goddard, the prospect of possibilities brings benefits. 

“The opening of Walnut Grove High School is a very bittersweet experience for me,” Goddard said. “I had lots of friends as well as some amazing teachers that made the move, and I’ve missed getting to see them every day. However, I know that the opening of WGHS is a necessary step that has a lot of benefits to it.”

In the end, Croy said, it’s not about which high school you go to, but about what you make of the experience. 

“When you get a diploma from a Prosper ISD high school, it doesn’t matter which one it is,” Croy said. “I love the fact that we get to build first-class facilities for our students.”

Croy said that while PHS administrators and teachers always look to improve, as of now, there isn’t anything specifically the school leaders would do differently. 

“It’s an amazing district,” Croy said. “A great place to be.”

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About the Contributors
Anisha Mandem, Assistant Editor
Anisha is a junior, and this is her third year on ENO. She is currently an Assistant Editor and the Editorial Section Editor. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she moved to Texas at the end of 2021 and works for the newspaper as a writer and a videographer. She is also the founder and president of the non-profit NeuroNext Foundation, the PHS Model UN team, and is a part of SNHS. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the piano, running, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Erica Deutsch, Feature Editor
Erica Deutsch, originally from Orlando, Florida, is a junior at Prosper High School. This is her second year working for Eagle Nation Online and she serves as the feature and entertainment editor. She adores photography and hopes to create a positive impact with her writing and podcasts. Outside of school, she enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, trying new baking recipes, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
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