It was the first day for everyone and everything at Crismon High School.
Principal Elyse Torbert welcomed nearly 1,000 students and 40 full-time teachers to the newest high school in the Queen Creek Unified School District as the new school year began last Wednesday.
“Our faculty and staff have worked hard to prepare, and everyone’s excited to start new traditions at Crismon High,” she said.
One of the biggest issues they’re still working on is figuring a way to efficiently move traffic through the drop-off/pick-up line.
The architect designed a traffic loop that people will see when they turn onto Crismon Road from Riggs Road.
From there, traffic turns right at the rotary and makes “a really long loop” through the parking lot to the front entrance and toward the football field.
Torbert said that even by 2 p.m., parents line up and that causes traffic to back up onto Riggs though parents haven’t complained too much once they turn onto Crismon.
“I don’t want to be a driver of Riggs and then have to wait through that, especially if I don’t have a kid,” she said.
This wasn’t Torbert’s first day of school as a principal, considering she worked as an assistant principal for Hamilton and Casteel High School, as well as a high school principal in Massachusetts. Most recently, she served as the principal for Queen Creek Elementary.
She said she liked the feel of where she’s at right now because Crismon is brand-new. There’s nothing like starting fresh and building the culture that you want,” she said.
Torbert said one of the keys to helping her do that has come from the staff that she personally recruited and hired.
“Their positive energy, expertise, collaborative nature, has really built the school,” she said. “They’ve really been able to make this work and set a positive culture from day one.”
She said some work remains on certain rooms in the building but all classrooms are open and occupied. Most of the unfinished work involves the library and media center, college and career center, and the performing arts center.
Torbert said construction won’t finish on those areas until early November at the latest.
She’s walked through every classroom and said she feels “a really great energy” and has been impressed by the students’ conduct, especially watching them picking up their trash.
“I think there’s a lot of pride that comes from building a new facility and opening a new school,” she said
She said students have shown respect and gratitude for each other by saying hello to each other and to staff and holding doors open for each other.
“Our goal is to be the number one high school in the state,” she said. “And we’re working our way towards that every day.”
Teachers have set the tone for school spirit by wearing school t-shirts and they also set up a parent/teacher organization and booster club. Christ’s Church of the Valley has also helped with bringing donations.
“We’re focused on ‘making thinking visible’ this year,” Torbert said, “and are looking forward to building our culture and community with our students.”