Hundreds tour new high school

School Board member William Hughes stood in the central hallway watching a line that snaked from the main entrance to the cafeteria.

“When we opened the door at 6 p.m. people just poured in,” Hughes said.

Teacher David Small walked a group of about 30 through the building. Small pointed out the locker bays situated in different areas to serve students.

“They (planners) decided to not line the hallways with lockers to keep congestion to a minimum,” Small said.
Another fascinating hallway design is the corridors get narrower as they near their end.

“As the students go into their classrooms and the crowds thin, the hallway is narrower,” Small said. “That left more room for classrooms at the end of the hallways.”

In order for all rooms to be used by everyone, most teachers don’t have a designated classroom in which to keep their stuff. Instead there are large work rooms on each floor that have pods for each teacher. Also in the work rooms are copiers and a kitchen.

Walking through the north wing of the fourth floor, Small pointed out the media publications and broadcast journalism rooms. Classes can be recorded via closed circuit TV, he said.

Most of the classrooms were set up with rectangular desks that sat four students. But there are two, stadium-seating lecture halls reminiscent of a community college classroom.

The media center is a two-story affair with comfortable tables and chairs.

While it was too hot to tour the grounds, Small stopped at one of the huge windows at the end of a hallway that looked out over the athletic fields. He pointed out the main football/soccer field and the five practice fields. Behind those were the softball and baseball fields.

The main gymnasium is three courts wide. When the bleachers are pulled out over the outer two, games will be held on the center court. There is also an auxiliary gym behind the locker rooms. There is a separate wrestling and fitness room.

Many oohed and ahhed over the state-of-the-art commercial kitchen with a gas range, grill, deep fryer, convection ovens and a walk-in deep freezer. It remains to be seen if it will be used for culinary arts instruction as intended. Budget cuts have sliced into such programs.

Perhaps most impressive was the central theater/auditorium that seats just under 1,000. The old high school didn’t have an auditorium. Many have envisioned holding community events as well as student programs in the theater.

Fluvanna Review photographer David Stemple spent considerable hours documenting all stages of the building process – from groundbreaking to the final run-through. He was at the school Thursday (July 26) taking pictures of the event. Stemple noted all the features he’s seen built into the school:

  • Outer walls have steel beams in them running at an angle to protect from high winds.
  • Every steel beam is sprayed with fire proofing foam.
  • The floor for the mechanical equipment is on a skid-mount plate so it doesn’t vibrate in classrooms.
  • Each room has a separate thermostat and light timers. If no one is in the room, the lights go out after a set time and the temperature can be set to go back to a certain temperature. When someone enters the room, the lights and temperature will come back on, saving on electric bills.
  • The main gym has translucent glass to allow natural light to filter in and has extra space between the players bench and bleachers so kids walk behind the players not in front.
  • Fire hydrants are served by a dedicated water supply.
  • There is a massive backup generator and fuel supply tank.
  • The building is protected by a fire sprinkler system throughout.
  • All clocks are atomic (automatically set by satellite) so students can’t change the time in classrooms and everyone is on same time.
  • The band and choral rooms have soundproofing in ceiling.
  • There is a black box theatre area in the drama classroom.
  • School administration staff is spread throughout the building – they’re not all clustered in the main office.
  • The in-school detention suite has bathrooms so students won’t be wandering the hallways.
  • The freight elevator is big enough for a rescue squad backboard.
  • There are security cameras inside and out.
  • Every classroom has laptop hookups for teachers, white boards and projectors.


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