The first high school in Valley Junction opened in October 1895 at 415 Seventh Street. Valley Junction’s first graduation was held May 31, 1901.
By 1916, the population had grown and a bond issue was passed for a new high school. Construction on the three-story, $50,000 structure at Eighth Street and Hillside Avenue was completed in 1917.
When Valley Junction changed its name to West Des Moines in 1938, the school district changed too, becoming the West Des Moines Independent School District. At this time, one high school, a junior high school, and three elementary schools served the needs of the community. Thanks to a grant from the Public Works Administration, a new concrete stadium was built that year just north of the high school on Eighth Street.
In 1962, 38 acres of farmland near 35th Street and Ashworth Road were purchased by the School Board for $116,000 as a site for a new high school. Construction of Valley High School was completed in four phases from 1963 to 1970. Valley became a four-year high school during the 1971-72 school year. Costing nearly $5.5 million dollars, Valley High School stretched almost one-quarter of a mile from end to end. Valley opened the Metropolitan Conference’s newest and largest gymnasium in 1971. Additional classrooms, science labs, and other student spaces were added over the years.
Valley’s new all-weather track, adjacent to the high school, was dedicated April 2, 1985. Additional renovations were made throughout the years at the baseball and softball complexes.
In the fall of 1997, freshman students began attending a new ninth-grade facility known as Valley Southwoods Freshman High School at 625 S. 35th Street. Valley High School became a building for grades 10 through 12.
A $31.5 million Valley High School renovation began in October 2004. The construction occurred in three major phases and was completed in 2007.
An enhanced physical-plant addition contained new heating and cooling systems, an electrical power service entrance, and curriculum space for the automotive and electrical technology programs. A two-story, 72,595-square-foot classroom addition provided flexible support spaces for individualized, small-group, project-based, and team-based learning. Another project created a student commons that opened in the fall of 2006. The commons included a new media center, business education labs, and new administrative and counseling offices. It also provided a space for students to gather, a coffee bar, and a student store.
A team of community members, parents, faculty, and administrators began work on a district-wide facility plan in 2008. Improvements to Valley were included in a 10-year facility master plan approved by the School Board in 2010. The $62.6 million project at Valley increased the school’s footprint from 349,567 square feet to 456,630. A three-story addition accounted for about one-third of the project’s overall cost. Money for the work came from a combination of state sales-tax revenue and the district’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL).
Demolition and earth work to prepare for the addition began in June 2011, along with renovations to the west parking lot, a new building mechanical center and stormwater detention projects. Construction of the addition started in November 2011 on the southwest corner of the school. The addition included new lab space for science classes as well as family and consumer science courses, the Cafe V culinary-arts restaurant, a larger cafeteria, and a FEMA-approved safe shelter that doubles as a fitness area and weight room. The three-story addition opened in January 2013.
Renovations to the north academic wing began in 2012, including updates to math, science, and social studies rooms along with special education areas. In 2013, the old cafeteria was demolished and a new auditorium began to take shape in its place on the east side of the school. The auditorium and the renovations to Valley’s north wing were completed in 2014.