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The need for a fourth public high school in Columbia was identified a decade ago. In 2005, the Columbia School Board conducted an audit of existing facilities and found substantial overcrowding at both the elementary and secondary levels.

Two years later, Columbia voters approved a $60 million bond issue that includes funding for the first phase of a new high school's construction. Then, in 2010, the board voted to name the future school after Muriel Williams Battle.

Battle, a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent, was instrumental in desegregating Columbia schools, along with her husband, Eliot.

Construction crews broke ground on the site in 2011 and former Oakland Junior High School Principal Kim Presko was tapped to serve as Battle's first principal.

“Muriel Battle hired me in this district 23 years ago,” Presko said in 2013. “She was influential in some of my success as an early administrator, and it’s my opportunity now to carry on her legacy and help this building be what I know she would want it to be.”

The first graduating class of Battle, the class of 2015, had a look at the new facilities in April, 2013.

“As part of the first class, I know my name will be left somewhere on this building,” Hickman sophomore Kyra Moss said. “I didn’t want to leave Hickman because of the traditions they have in theater. But Battle will be here for forever, and I want to be remembered. I want to help create traditions, so people won’t want to leave Battle.”

The school was dedicated on June 2, 2013 and students attended their first day of summer school the next day. The first day of the fall semester began on Aug. 20, 2013.

A projected 1,500 attended Battle in 2014-15 and the school can support up to 1,850 students in future years.

With reporting by Caroline Bauman from the Missourian's 2013 special section, "Dawn Breaks on Battle High."