Students at Ray Public School started the new year in new classrooms.
The $7.4 million dollar school expansion that started in March is nearing completion.
Jennifer Thorgramson toured the construction zone and as she tells us, it's not only the contractors who make a building a school.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "One thing that never changes is that things change."
You can believe a statement like that from a handful of people: mom and pop, and Ray High School Principal of 26 years, Arley Larson.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "The biggest situation that all of these schools are facing is that we don't know what to expect. Did we build too big? Did we build too small? What's going to happen down the road? Will we have to add on? Those are all unanswered questions. For what's happening out here, we have no idea."
When Larson started in 1985, there were about 260 students at Ray Public School.
When enrollment dropped by half four years ago, school officials were looking into consolidation options.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "What's happened in the last four years, we've increased about 100 students. What's really interesting this year, we're up about 75 students but we've also lost 68."
Even with the high turn over, enrollment in Ray is now at about 270 students.
And with what seems like no end to the oil patch, school officials moved forward with a $7.4 million dollar expansion that opened with the new year.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "This room was the first one we moved into, we moved in here yesterday. This group is probably the smartest sophomore class in three states and two Canadian provinces so we figured we'd get them in here first."
The giant windows are a favorite feature for Larson.
Across the hall, the new computer lab will make a debut next week.
34-36 thousand feet of cable was run through the new addition by a group of volunteers and electrical engineers, many of them alumni of Ray High School.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "Here's our new science room. The first class will be held this afternoon in here. It's going to be a lab class for biology will be the first one in here."
A six-week set back at the gymnasium has left it with a way to go.
Built on what used to be the playground, an underground sewer line needed to be moved.
The new gym is more than double the size of the now demoted practice gym, there's seating available for 1300 fans.
Those fans will have a new stop for concessions soon as well.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "As you can see there's a big mess here right now. Everyday there's getting to be less stuff on the floor, and more stuff up. As time goes on here, hopefully we'll be here by the end of the year."
A new heating plant was installed throughout the entire school.
Larson says with the heating improvements especially, local volunteers saved the school tens of thousands of dollars.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "It makes you very proud to be a member of a small community because you find out that it isn't just the contractors that are helping out, there's a lot of local people as well. So we're real appreciative of that."
Larson has seen a lot of kids come and go over the last 26 years, but one thing won't change in Ray: It's about the kids.
(Arley Larson, Ray High School Principal) "I know that we've gotten a lot of good kids in. A lot of good kids that have moved a lot. I think that's the biggest group that's forgotten about in this situation is the oil field kids because a lot of them have had to move to many different schools in just a few years. That's not easy when you don't have roots put down and aren't part of things. Are you going to be here for six months? And then gone again? You really feel bad for kids in that situation. A lot of them have left for Christmas and you ask, 'Where are you going?' 'I'm going home.' To us, this is home but to them it's not. That word home isn't used lightly. It takes years before a place feels like home. So hopefully some of them will make this their home before we're done with all this."
In Ray, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News.
The vote for a five million dollar bond in Ray passed by a 90 percent margin and the school has raised about $1.4 million dollars locally.
Larson says the school is still looking for a company to sponsor the science lab, if interested contact Ray Public School.