MOUNT VERNON — When high school freshmen start school Wednesday in Mount Vernon, some will do so a few blocks from the high school campus at the former Lincoln Elementary School.

Construction at the high school’s Old Main building has left the school short 22 classrooms, Assistant Principal Chris Oliver said.

With an empty building just a few blocks away — the district stopped using Lincoln as an elementary school when it opened Harriet Rowley Elementary School — the district decided to use Lincoln as a temporary space for the about 500 freshmen in the district.

“Our goal is to make it as welcoming as we can,” said Oliver. “And make it feel like a high school.”

Each day about half the freshman class will take their core classes — those such as math, science and language arts — at what is being called the high school’s south campus, while the other half takes their electives and other classes on the school’s main campus, Oliver said.

“The kids kind of get the best of both worlds,” said Oliver, who is the on-site administrator for the south campus.

On the south campus, which is being decorated in the same green and white that adorns the halls of the main campus, freshmen will have a space of their own while still having access to the social activities offered on the main campus.

The desks and chairs that were used in the former elementary school have been removed, and tables and chairs better suited to older students have been moved in.

At lunch, students will have the freedom to move about. They can eat outside, in the school’s designated cafeteria, or in an area that includes a pingpong table and esports computers, Oliver said.

In order to be able to use the building for students, the school district worked with the city of Mount Vernon to get the necessary permits, which mostly required the district to change interior hallway and stairway doors to improve fire safety, school district Assistant Superintendent Bill Nutting said.

The district does not plan to use the building for students after the current high school construction project is over, meaning by the 2022-2023 school year, all of the high school’s students will be back on one campus, Nutting said.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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