New Neenah High School Q&A: Things that Students Want to Know

New Neenah High School Q&A:  Things that Students Want to Know

Photo by: Elaina Plankey

Ana Sofia O. Pavão and Lindsey Jones

Students are struck with many questions as the days dwindle toward the opening of the new Neenah High School coming fall of 2023. 

With only a few months until the keys to 500 Rocket Way are turned over to the Neenah Joint School District, many students question what different aspects of school life will look like.

“The start of the year will look different with 2,000 kids who aren’t familiar with a place,” Principal Brian Wunderlich said. 

Striving to satisfy the curiosity of the student body about the new school and better prepare them for what is to come in the fall of next year. Interviews with Wunderlich and Activities Director Michael Elkin reveal the answers. Two categories explored within the interviews: athletics and day-to-day student life, give students an overview of what to expect for the future of their high school career. 


Mr. Elkin expresses his excitement for the new building, but also the necessity of a good school atmosphere, “Buildings don’t win you championships, people do.”

Athletics are a huge part of the culture at NHS. With the building of the new high school, set to be finished on July 5, 2023, there are numerous questions. An interview with Elkin held Nov. 16, 2022, reveals long-awaited answers.

Q: What new facilities will be at the new high school?

A: “Every sport will be moving out there except for swimming. We are not building a new pool at this time, but hopefully, in the future, we will. I still foresee us using current Neenah High School for some possible indoor events; tournaments, invites, things like that.” 

Q: What will sporting events look like? / How many people can the new facilities hold?

 A: New competition gym:  “Currently the Ron Anderson Fieldhouse can seat about 3,200. At the competition gym in the new high school, we’re going to be able to seat about 3,000. There will be a student section that will be on one end and normal bleachers on the side. Plus there will be a balcony up there as well. With 2,000 able to fit in the bleachers, the balcony is another thousand. The goal was to make it a smaller venue with the same amount of people, to make the energy just a little bit more.”

Future Rocket Stadium:

“The new Rocket Stadium is going to be turf — that’s the first turf field that Neenah’s ever had! The bleachers are only on one side. There’s no visiting side . . . and the scoreboard is going to be directly across. Usually, it’s in the endzone, but it’s going to more than likely be behind the visiting team’s bench. That will be a unique and interesting thing, it seats 3,500 people. I think the current Rocket Stadium seats 3,000 or so. There will be two levels to the stadium, when you walk in you can go up or down.” 

Q: Where will the sports fields/practices be located?

A: “What we are calling it right now, for better words, is Spirit Concourse. Spirit Concourse is on the left-hand side when you walk out, as you walk south there is the performing arts area and on the right-hand side are physical education and athletic facilities. Now an interesting tidbit to this is that the center of the Spirit Concourse is also the center of the Rocket Stadium. When you look out the goalpost of the football field, the goals on the soccer field and the goals of lacrosse all line up right down the middle of that hallway. Every outdoor facility is on the south side of the school, from the football field to the track, to baseball and softball, all of that and we’re in the works for a full cross-country course.”

Q: What sports will have to use both new and old facilities the next school year?

A: “That’s really going to depend on how the setup is out at the new high school, and if there will be an easier or better situation at the current high school. We might see some restructuring of tournaments we host, but that’s probably the main thing.”



Principal, Brian Wunderlich, provides the behind the scene information on the school setup and plans, giving the students an idea of what a day at the new school could be like. He shows his gratitude and incentives the students to do the same, thinking about what an incredible opportunity the new school is for the community

Principal Wunderlich embraces his role as a good steward for the new high school. Forward Together on the N.J.S.D. website documents the latest photos, new high school site construction updates and vitural tours and renderings. 

As the student body’s curiosity grows with the anticipation of the new high school, Principal Wunderlich shares organizational details and classroom visions that help settle down interrogations and doubts among the students.

Q: Are there any major differences/upgrades with safety and security at the new building?

A: “Security and safety are one of those things that we don’t really talk about. To get into the logistics of it, but I do know that some will be like, ‘Wow that’s a lot of glass; how are you going to protect and do those kinds of things?’ This new building will have some security functions that this current one does not have, with regards to in the event of something happening there are things built into the building that segment it off. It gives you less and less access to get from one section to another. There are far quicker and easier access out of the new building.”

Q: What will the classroom setup look like?

A: “As you think about the building, there’s the main entrance.  You have four pathways on the first floor and the second floor into what will become eight learning commons. The science rooms are in the middle . . . four on top, four on bottom . . . first-floor second-floor mirror themselves. The big difference will be a variety of different paths where you can get to different things. One of the things that we are thinking about is the majority of ninth-grade classes on the first floor, and up above maybe eleventh. Tenth, twelveth, or some variation of that . . . all around we will have our encore classes. ”

Q: What is the common/rest situation at the new high school?

A: “We’re going to have tables along the side for either release, but also distributed dining. There’s also in each one of the wings an area that will have soft furniture. Two or three classrooms open right up, so the glass doors slide. You could have maybe some group work while the rest of the class is going on in the class. There are eight of these within the building.”

Q: What will parking look like at the new high school?

A: “Obviously we’re not in a neighborhood, so we have enough parking for everyone. There are two huge parking lots. I think 800 spots, something like that, between two lots which is more parking than we have here. We have 500 here, and when we use Memorial Park it’s another 71 spots. So more parking than we currently have and for all students. There’s another lot by baseball and softball fields, another 120, and then there’s 300 in the back. Every kid who drives — sophomore, junior or senior, will have a spot.” 

Q: How will the bathrooms be in the new building?

A: “There will be so many bathrooms, but a lot of smaller individual bathrooms. I don’t know if the bathrooms will even be gender assigned, just single occupancy, whoever goes to it goes to it.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to address for the student body to hear?

A: “My number one thing I’m talking a lot to staff about, and hopefully will ultimately get to start with students about. This is a remarkable gift from our community. The fact that this passed, and we get the opportunity to take this over and come out of COVID the way that this building has been treated by a small number of kids is rather disappointing. I really hope people recognize ‘oh my goodness’, and ‘how do we leave this for every generation to really appreciate and enjoy?’”

Athletics and Day-to-day are only two of many branches of school life to be explored in the new building. Another group with exciting things to look forward to is the Performing Arts. Maddie Van Zeeland, class of ‘23,  an active performer, expresses the construction of a new Black Box Theater that will allow more intimate performances and spacious new rooms for orchestra and band practices. There are still plans to come back to the Pickard Auditorium for Opener and any performances that are in need of a bigger space.

NHS students can expect great things for the new high school. It is both an exciting and nerve-racking event to move buildings; however, there is no doubt that Rockets will be amazing.