School may be out for the summer, but Scott County School officials are keeping their eyes on August opening dates as construction crews race to the finish line to finish various projects.
The News-Graphic will be taking tours of Great Crossing High School and its athletic complex, Creekside Elementary and the expansion of Georgetown Middle School to see firsthand what is in store for students when they return to class in August.
Today: Great Crossing High School
It has been a dream and a demand of many in Scott County for several years. And this fall, the new Great Crossing High School will open its doors to students, and crews are far enough long that it isn’t hard to envision students in the hallways and classrooms. And the good news, there is room to expand.
“We said look, we are the fastest growing county in the state. What we didn’t want to do is come in after the fact and have to add on,” said Billy Parker, assistant superintendent of operations. “So the thought was we had the parking spaces oversized, the cafeteria can be easily expanded and then go into the bottom floor, which is unfinished right now, and when we need to, go right in, while school is going on, and add 14 more classrooms. Without the bottom floor, capacity is about 1,500 students. With it finished, it is under 2,000. So for pennies on the dollar, we can expand it.”
Crews intentionally did the classrooms first and the administrative and other areas last, said Dwayne Ellison, director of maintenance.
“Crews are beginning to put up ceiling tile, painting and flooring,” Ellison said.
Ellison plans to start moving furniture into the approximately 225,000-square-foot high school in mid-July. Parker said the places they order furniture from has been “blown away by the progress that has been made.”
“This is something the community has been talking about for a very long time. Everyone knew we needed a new high school,” Parker said. “It’s nice to see it getting to this point.”
One of the first things visitors will notice is the abundant amount of natural lighting and the long hallway they will walk down to reach the gym and the auditorium, with a concession stand in between. There are windows in the ceiling that will allow natural light into the hallway, and interior classrooms have windows that look out into the hallway. As you look up at the second and third floors from the hallway, you can see those windows.
“This will be the part the community sees on the way to the auditorium and the gym. We visited a school that had something like this, and it was 10 years old and it had held up well,” Parker said. “In theory, we can close off the rest of the school from this main hallway. We can have an administrator at each hallway and can just about cover the hallway on the first level.”
“Teachers hate interior classrooms, so the windows are one way of sneaking in some natural sunlight,” Ellison said. “There’s a lot of daylight that will be in this hallway.”
The school will have terrazzo flooring in parts of the school. Terrazo is poured concrete with stones and clear glassy stones in it that is smoothed over. Royal Spring Middle School has similar flooring.
“What sold me on it is an elementary school in Richmond had it, and it looked like new,” even though it had been put in several years ago. “It’s expensive to do, but it lasts forever,” Ellison said.
Rubber flooring is in use in most of the instructional space.
The basketball home of the Warhawks has rapidly taken shape. The scoreboard has been hung from the ceiling with logos and seating to hold 2,200 is being put in. Fans will notice a couple of things as they come into the gym. The goals will be the rollaway models instead of those that come down from the ceiling. And there are walkways around the second and third floors so people can stand and watch the game. Ellison said the gym floor will be laid soon.
“The one difference between this gym and the Scott County High School gym is that the architects didn’t like the goals coming down from the gym,” Parker said. “And kind of like the Frankfort Civic Center, you can access seating from top to bottom. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house.”
Students will find classroom space distributed differently than at SCHS. There are stand-alone classrooms on one end of each floor and science classrooms on one side of the hallways with a lab between classrooms that can be shared. There are whiteboards, bulletin boards and large screen TVs (instead of projectors) in the classrooms to enhance the learning experience and allow teachers to use more technology.
On the other side of the hallway are pod-type set ups for classrooms, similar to what is in use at Western Elementary.
“They have this pod concept. There are double doors on each side, then they come into this shared space,” Parker said. “Here the thought is students working together in a collaborative space. There are four classrooms that feed into each of these areas. It can be used if a student needs to make up a test.”
“In theory, teachers could team teach in these four classrooms and students may not have to leave it,” Ellison said.
Another noticeable difference is there are fewer lockers, but that is by design.
“We spent an amazing amount of time talking about lockers,” Parker said. “Dwayne talked to administrators and students at the high school and there is a lot of lockers that aren’t being used. So there won’t be a locker for every student here if they aren’t going to use them. It didn’t seem to be a good use of taxpayer money to put a lot of lockers in that aren’t going to be used.”
At the end of each floor is a large learning area for career/technical classes with the equipment they will need in those classes. On the first floor, agriculture is on one end with a greenhouse area outside. On the other end is the family consumer sciences. On the second floor will be pre-engineering classrooms and the third floor will be more media art space including a recording area.
Much of the cafeteria is in place, there is an outdoor area that could be used if it needs to be expanded in the future, or if a class wants to eat outside. There will also be high-top and booth seating just to offer different seating options.
The band/auditorium/chorus areas will feature several nice touches for students. There is a parking lot next to the band room for them to practice their marching shows. Dressing room space has been included for performances, and there is an orchestra pit that lifts up and down for shows. Seating will hold about 750 people.
“When I looked up in the chorus room I noticed there wasn’t right angles and I thought boy we have messed up,” Ellison said. “But that is what they want for sound effects. They don’t want right angles.”
Other highlights of the new school:
— The spacious art room can be split into two rooms. And, according to Kentucky Department of Education guidelines, it is built on an outer wall with an exit. It also includes areas for several pottery wheels, in addition to traditional art space.
— Counselor areas is separated so they can have more privacy and a receiving area to work with students.
— There’s plenty of storage for PE equipment off the gym for class.
— There are elevators on each end of instructional hallway.
— Lights in each classroom will turn off automatically and there can be four different presets to adjust lighting.
— In the science classroom/labs, there are showers and eye wash stations but there aren’t drains. “They are supposed to be emergency use only, so if they aren’t going to use it in emergencies only, why go to the expense of having drains that will smell and are expensive when you can come in and mop it up,” Parker said.
— There is administrator space on each floor, so an assistant principal for example could be on each floor.
— There are computer labs on the second and third floors.
Steven McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.