Newton High School students, faculty and staff will definitely need a map to navigate their way to new classrooms and offices at the start of the 2013-14 school year, as a walk through at the school on Thursday proved to be quite the amazing maze.
Newton County School System officials toured the new Newton High School in awe of the results of several months of construction, as they were greeted by the smell of fresh paint and newly rolled out carpet filled in the multi-story high school building.
The new school includes a 500-plus seat auditorium; an open commons entrance area; a gym which would accommodate 2,500 spectators; a practice gym; science labs; band and choral classrooms that are connected with rehearsal areas; a ROTC wing that includes office space, classrooms and a rifle range; engineering labs with a covered exterior work room, agricultural and art classrooms and even elevators for students and teachers to get to the different floors of the school.
Jeff Robinson, an architect with Cunningham Forehand Matthews and Moore based out of Atlanta, guided NCSS officials through the school as he discussed the different features in and outside of the building, which sits on 117.7 acres of land on Crowell Road north, a few miles from the current NHS.
“We did do some day lighting strategies as you can see within [the commons area], the media center, the cafeteria and also up on the upper level and in the science labs. We used a skylight-type product to get day lighting into the building,” Robinson said.
“Out in the parking area, we have biocells [bioretention cells] that collect runoff from the parking area and it filters the water from the [stormwater] runoff in the parking areas and it is distributed into the ponds after it is filtered and cleaned and used to irrigate the ball fields, which is also supplemented with well water,” Robinson said.
“Another thing that is a little different about this building is the precast construction (construction that involves using precast concrete, a construction product produced by casting concrete in a reusable form), which enabled the schedule to proceed in a much more timely fashion,” Robinson said.
“From the day the first panel was set on the job to the last panel set on the job, it took approximately 120 days. So with a building this size, that is pretty fast.”
The school also has ample parking, with a student parking lot at the rear of the school, teacher and visitors parking at the front and parking for rows of school buses, which sits across from several ball fields that are also housed on the campus.
Walking into the building, an open commons area welcomes students, teachers and staff. To the right of the commons area sits the auditorium and to the left of the commons area is the media center/library, which has conference rooms and offices surrounding the perimeter of an open space.
An elevator down the hall to the left of the entrance takes you up the multiple levels of the building. One of those levels leads to the Special Education hallway, which houses classrooms and resource rooms.
A number of the classrooms through the new school are set up for interactive boards and have features that will allow direct contact to school office staff with “call” buttons built into the walls.
NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said the new school is a testament to a job well done and something that students and future generations of students could be proud of.
“If ever there was a worthwhile expenditure/investment, this school certainly represents that,” Mathews said.
“And for generations to come, children of Newton High School will be extremely well served because of the citizens and taxpayers of this community.”
The new school, located between Jack Neely and Crowell roads, is set to open in the fall. Mathews said work on the new school is still on schedule. Construction on the new school began in spring 2011.
The current Newton High School was originally constructed in 1972 as an open-classroom school and has been renovated several times over the years. School officials have not yet released plans of what will be done to the old NHS.
The Newton County Board of Education voted to accept the low bid of $42.6 million for the construction of the replacement for NHS.
As a part of the current five-year facilities plan, state capital outlay will pay for $29.16 million of the school with the additional cost being paid for with bonds.