INDIANAPOLIS — From David Letterman to Professional Athletes like George Hill and Mike Woodson, Broad Ripple High School housed notable Hoosiers — and now, students attending Purdue Polytechnic High School are bringing the hallways of Broad Ripple High back to life.
It’s the first-time students are learning in this building since it closed in 2018. It’s something that shocked many people in the community at the time.
Step inside the doors of Broad Ripple High School and Principal Richard Benberry will greet you like you’re already his friend.
He brings a familiar vibe, to a new, temporary, campus for more than 300 Purdue Polytechnic High School Students.
As a kid, Benberry said he used to live in Broad Ripple and he knows the impact it had on the community until it closed.
"How pristine this school is, after not being used for four years. That’s the part I can’t get over," he said.
It’s pristine because Indianapolis Public Schools continued to partially use this facility.
However, this week, it’s opening its doors once again to students and educators who now occupy the third floor for one year.
PPHS students call the 375,000-square-foot facility an upgrade.
“I’m obviously very excited,” said PPHS sophomore Calvin Stauss.
Students said they crammed into rooms for classes last year.
"There are just some general quality of life improvements, I feel like having wider hallways is something that an office building doesn’t really have. It’s going to be a big bonus," Stauss said.
Classrooms in their old facility sat so closely together students could hear conversations through the walls.
“I feel like it’s going to boost a lot of my grades up and make me focus more on what I have to do,” said junior Alex Murphy.
Now at Broad Ripple High School, student-athletes also see an opportunity.
"A lot of sports come to my mind, a lot of history," Murphy said.
"... Where we were practicing before we would either have to go all the way across to the east side by Howe (Thomas Carr Howe ) High School to practice, which is, you know, a lot, considering 5 o’clock traffic,” said junior Jayden Barney.
Broad Ripple High serves as a temporary campus for PPHS, while the construction work finishes on the new North Campus.
“We going to use it, we're gonna use it,” said Barney.
From the administrative perspective, Benberry said he sees the learning advantages this new space provides.
“Yeah, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal," he said. “... Stability is important whether it be in a family or in a school environment."
Last year, PPHS students walked between two campuses in Broad Ripple.
At the rate, the student body grew the charter school needed more space.
“And so we were like, 'Oh my goodness,'” said PPHS Chief of School Operations Shatoya Ward.
Now working with IPS helps the school district as well.
IPS hasn’t sold Broad Ripple High School yet and the district’s Chief Portfolio Officer Jamie VanDeWalle said, “You’re right, it is a very large facility, on a lot of land.”
School officials said it’s partially because of the current law which allows charter schools to buy the building for $1 under certain circumstances.
“The dollar law is a legislative component that makes it very difficult for us to think about selling the property,” said VanDeWalle.
“We love our partnership with IPS, but we are not interested in purchasing any of the buildings for a dollar,” said Ward.
Although the future of the building isn’t defined, the joy of being together and learning and the genuine excitement for Broad Ripple High School is crystal clear.
“Want to be able to serve our community, especially when you have all of these great businesses that are our here and how can our students be innovative and help these businesses grow,” said Benberry.
Other people and organizations have made bids to buy Broad Ripple High School.
Because of the five-year Innovation agreement with IPS, Purdue Polytechnic High School agreed to one year of using the facility for $25,000 dollars and they agreed to not lay claim to the Broad Ripple High School property for one dollar.
IPS' "Rebuilding Stronger" campaign is going on now and the district hopes to share a draft plan, with the community in early fall. So there might be more discussion about the future of Broad Ripple High at that time.
For now, there are no planned changes and PPHS will continue to use the other building along Broad Ripple Ave as a maker’s space while students learn at Broad Ripple High.