For students attending schools in rural communities especially, their schools are so much more than simply buildings. The rural school stands as both a place to educate students as well as serve as the center of the community. It is a common hub for community members to connect as they cheer on the high school sports teams or watch the community theater productions. Bringing students from surrounding areas, the rural school can be integral for instilling unity and pride in the community. This sense of pride can be bolstered by updated school facilities, and Nunn understands that is one of the many reasons why the school embodies multiple critical roles in rural communities.
Generational Impacts of Rural Schools
Rural schools connect neighbors and bring the generations together. For many in rural communities, attending the same school as their parents, grandparents, or other family is not a rarity. Brad Rusk, a Superintendent at Nunn Construction, graduated from Custer County K-12 School in 1989, making him an alum just like his father who graduated in 1966. Brad’s family has been in the Westcliff area since the late 1800s. The school is not only a place for the students to socialize with their peers but also the entire community. When reflecting on the importance of the rural school, Brad said, “I think the school has great impacts on the community.” When going back to Custer County K-12, he asserted alumni walk into the updated school and still feel like “it’s their home.” He stated that Westcliff is a very “tight-knit community” and that residents still enjoy going to basketball games and catching up with fellow community members.
Rural Schools Effects on Community
While uniting the community is a secondary purpose of the school, the primary purpose is serving the students—which sometimes means growing the school facilities to meet their needs. Brad remarked on how the graduating class at Custer County K-12 keeps growing every year. With this increased number of students, the need for larger and more updated school facilities became apparent. Nunn Construction finished the renovation of this school in 2018. From the perspective of a former alum, Brad claimed that the school improvements “were appreciated by everyone,” both students and alum alike.
Rural Schools and College Enrollment
At its core, rural schools are paramount for the education of students. Dustin Carroll, an Assistant Project Manager at Nunn, stated that a quality education is for rural students. Dustin, a 2019 alum of Manzanola K-12, remarked on the importance of rural schools as many students in these communities do not attend college. He also asserted that quality rural schools are vital for preparing college-bound students for their future academic careers.
According to educational news organization Chalkbeat Colorado, which cited a Colorado Department of Higher education report, fewer than 50% of Colorado’s rural high school graduates enroll in college. We build quality, safe, and updated schools because having these spaces helps students to learn, thrive, and pursue a range of options for their postsecondary education.
Springboard into Southwest Colorado
A major catalyst for opening our office in Durango was the Montezuma-Cortez High School project that led us to having a greater presence in Southwest Colorado. Since that time, we have had over 50 projects from our Southwest office, including six PK-12 school projects.
BEST Grants Help Rural Communities
Updating and building new schools in rural communities is often facilitated by the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Grant Program. According to the Colorado Department of Education, BEST Grant Fund Program has awarded approximately $2.5 billion since 2008 to over 525 Colorado schools. Nunn has built and renovated over 150 schools in our 40 years of business, including 12 BEST grant school projects. We view BEST Grants as an integral part of building better schools for students, especially in rural communities where other funding may not be available. BEST Grants often act as an important source of capital resources for rural capital improvements for these schools.
Building the Future of Education
At Nunn, we believe that building better schools is important because every student is important, and better schools help students to grow. Giving students an improved environment to learn helps give them the foundation and tools they need to develop their potential to succeed in life. With over four decades of building experience, Nunn has a passion for building schools that foster educational careers and make differences in the communities we serve.