Rock Hill opening ushers in a new era for Prosper ISD, town

Lisa Ferguson
Prosper Press
Construction workers and students walk near the entrance of Rock Hill High School on  July 29. The campus, which is scheduled to open Aug. 12, is Prosper ISD's  second high school.

It’s official: Prosper is no longer a one-high school district.

The first day of classes on Aug. 12 also marks the opening of Prosper ISD’s second high school campus.

Rock Hill High School, located on Coit Road near Highway 380 in Frisco, has bustled with activity in recent weeks as final preparations for the start of the new school year were underway.

Small groups of students and parents, accompanied by Principal Dustin Toth, were given guided tours of the expansive, well-appointed facility.

Central hallways, adorned with striking blue decorative wall tiles, are bathed in natural light courtesy of numerous tall windows and doors.

Seating areas filled with modern-style couches, armchairs, ottomans and conversation tables look out onto outdoor courtyards populated with more tables as well as trees and shrubs.

Situated just beyond the school’s front doors, the library lacks walls but is loaded with plenty of low shelving for books. It also features comfy study and collaboration areas, as well places for students to plug in their electronic devices and work.

The space flows directly into the dining area, which resembles a shopping mall food court more than a traditional school cafeteria. Teens can select from offerings at a coffee bar, a pasta station or deli, as well fast-food favorites Sonic and Pizza Hut, among others.

The school’s broadcast studio, from which live news and sports programs will air, features the latest in 4K technology (also known as Ultra HD). It rivals anything found in a professional studio including a sizeable green screen, an interview set, a trio of TV cameras and a control room behind the scenes.

Rather than traditional school desks, classrooms are furnished with tables that have writable surfaces and wide chairs with space beneath for storing backpacks during instruction time. Large television screens, into which teachers can plug a laptop, have replaced whiteboards on walls.

A manufacturing lab has the latest equipment required by engineering students to work on complex robotics projects.

In another classroom, four hospital beds and other equipment are available for teens interested in studying medicine.

A mock courtroom has been installed on the building’s second floor for students who wish to learn more about the law.

A culinary lab is fully outfitted with commercial-grade stainless steel appliances and boasts a walk-in cooler among other features. It is adjacent to the school’s chic Hilltop Café, which will eventually open to diners from outside of the school.

“We’ve been talking to our teachers about using our space,” Principal Toth said. “The whole campus is basically a classroom."

Toth, who is in his seventeenth year as an educator, previously served as assistant principal at Prosper High School before being hired in April 2019 as Rock Hill’s first principal.

In the year-plus since, he has been “pretty involved” in all aspects of the campus’ creation, from consulting with architects and hiring staff to working closely with students to determine the school’s core values.

“I remember the first meeting we had with our kids, I said, `I want this school to be about you guys and what you want,’ so that’s really where we started. We had a blank slate and we started talking to them about different ideas,” he said.

“Everything along the way - like naming our mascot, naming our fight song, naming the restaurant, the broadcast studio - all those things came from our kids. It was their ideas and they voted on it. Literally, everything that has a name on it, or a process, or something that we’re doing really came from our kids, so it’s been pretty cool.”

Of all the impressive features at Rock Hill, Toth said he is most proud of the 41 flags on poles that encircle the school’s second floor. They represent the counties of origin of the school's students and staff members.

“We started out with that number and we’ve already added students and staff that are from other countries, so as we grow we will be able to add more flags. It’s real neat when you see it,” he said. “A staple of our campus is unity, and that’s one of our core values. That’s why we wanted (the flags) to be kind of the centerpiece of our campus.”

A rendering of Rock Hill High School's Blue Hawk mascot is displayed in the school's foyer.