Johnson High School turned 10 last year and, although it is a relatively new school, some differences can be found in different aspects of it. Some things never change, especially when talking about a 10 year-old school,—many things have remained the same as the years have gone by. However, there have been a number of changes in the school population and building in general.
“When we first opened, we gained access to the school, if I remember correctly, the weekend before we opened. We didn’t even have access to the building. We were fairly small, we were operating here with certain wings of the school not even open yet. Obviously when you have that big of a campus, there’s a number of adjustments there. As far as changes go, obviously, when you put a school in an area like this, it’s gonna grow. You put a school somewhere, the area is gonna respond to it. And we’ve got a number of growth in our area, which means now our population is going to rise as well,” Assistant Principal Sean Reno said.
According to Reno, although some things have changed throughout the years, the expectation Johnson has for its students has always remained high.
“There are some consistencies that have stayed. This campus has always had high expectations for their students, their teachers, administrators, our extracurricular activities, their academics, our co-curricular activities. When people moved out here, they moved out here with the expectation that we would provide a great experience for their child. Now, you look at it, people have gone out of their way to go to Johnson High School, to be a part of something great. As far as that goes, the bar, I think, continues to rise, as far as what people expect from their child’s experience here at Johnson, which I think is great. I think that, in some of the things that have not changed, are the expectations of a great experience for their child here on campus,” Reno said.
Because the campus has grown, the personal connections or relationships teachers had with their students might be harder to achieve today.
“Because there were less students, it was easier to get to know people one-on-one with things. I think we had, not necessarily closer relationships, because we have really great students that we love, but there was just a one-on-one that, even if somebody was not one of the best players, they still got a TLC and we were working very hard to make them better immediately, whereas now, there’s sort of a relaxed feeling like, people will go through the different bands and they’ll make it to the top when they want to make it to the top,” Assistant Band Director Alan Sharps said.
The Johnson Band started off small as well, and made their way up as time went by.
“We had a lot of really hard working students, but we only had about 20 or so that had any type of marching band experience at the high school level. Over the course of three years, we really came into our own as far as, we had our four years of players and talent and that sort of thing, that’s when we started immediately having some success at the competitive level and things like that. In about 2011, we started winning competitions and being noticed around the state. We went to the Grand National’s Contest, which is bands of America, it’s up in Indianapolis and we came in eight place that first year and it was quite an accomplishment for our students,” Sharps said.
Something that has caught the attention of people here is the diversity Johnson has.
“I think it’s very real-world—that’s something I’ve always appreciated about Johnson. You have a lot of opportunities here if you take advantage of them. And if you don’t take advantage of them, you can struggle. We have around here, we have some of the best of the best and we have students that have needs. We have everybody here at Johnson. And I love it,” Reno said.
When Johnson first opened, students from both MacArthur and Reagan high school had the option of either switching schools or staying in their old one.
“We had students at MacArthur that lived in our area because Reagan had so many students, and we had students that lived in our area that were from Reagan, so our first class had seniors from both campuses that lived in our zone and had the option of coming over. That’s why our first senior class was so small,” Reno said.
Reno, however, didn’t start off as an AP, but rather as a tennis coach.
“It was a little bit more of a smaller faculty, and you knew everybody because we all came in together. You’re opening a school together that doesn’t even exist yet. We can’t even get into the building, yet we’re planning for a school year, and we don’t even know what our classroom looks like. I was a tennis coach, and we competed against three different schools with kids I barely knew. We didn’t even have tennis courts here, we were practicing at Tejeda, Blossom, Reagan, everything was in the back of my car and Ms. Tubose, she was the other tennis coach, we coached together. And so, everything’s in the back of our cars, and we’re driving everywhere to practice and compete,” Reno said.
Reno also said he built many close relationships with both teachers and students during his first years.
“I miss individuals that have gone on and done other things, teachers that I had relationships with, students that I got to know well, they graduated, and we still know they’re doing well, we keep in touch with them, but as far as things that I miss, not really from the school endpoint because I think we’re growing in the right direction, I belive that it’s a great place. Like I said, it’s it’s just an overall well-rounded community here at Johnson, and I really appreciate that. They hold us accountable, they look for the experiences, and they support what’s going on in our campus,” Reno said.
According to Reno, students have many opportunities in campus available to them, yet they might take them for granted if they don’t know any better.
“I love our district, I love this place, I love the fact that we have a diverse community from different backgrounds and experiences that come and I just think that it provides an opportunity for success for everybody who seeks it,” Reno said.