Will Rogers High School will welcome back students with a renovated building totaling over $4 million in improvements.
It stands as one of the best examples of Art Deco high school architecture in the country, and it is right here in Tulsa.
The high school, known for its elaborate beauty, defines the history of education in the state of Oklahoma.
"There's this just, real sense of belonging when you walk in here,” Nicolette Dennis, principal at Will Rogers High School said.
As school begins, students heading back to Will Rogers will see 80 years of history spruced up with millions of dollars in renovations.
Crossing the threshold into the high school is like a blast from the past.
“It’s not just historic,” Dennis said. “It just feels that way. You can almost hear the past."
Built during the Great Depression in 1939, the national historic landmark was designed to instill pride.
"If you google 'architecture digest and ‘most beautiful school in Oklahoma,' Will Rogers pops up."
The school's decadence is undeniable but wear and tear over the years left some of the building in bad shape. If the school wanted to reflect the students inside, that meant transforming the structure to the modern age with over $4 million in renovations.
"There's new tile on all the floors, new flooring.” Dennis said. “There's new window fixtures, especially the energy efficient blinds. They've touched up the old wood."
There's also new light fixtures, updated bathrooms, and energy efficient lights that turn on when you enter the room. Each upgrade was dealt with special care in order to keep 80 years of history intact.
"Environment plays a key role in how we feel about where we work and learn and live,” Dennis said. “I feel like having clean restrooms, having a functional classroom, and having a beautiful place to go to school increases student’s ownership and sense of belonging."
The project was all paid for by a bond passed in 2014. Those bond dollars will also go toward more phases to help improve the school.
Two other projects are planned right now. The school plans to build a new football stadium and add a counseling services center.
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