New-look DHS campus ready for unveiling | RecordCourier.com

New-look DHS campus ready for unveiling

With only some finishing touches remaining to be taken care of, a new-looking Douglas High School campus will be unveiled on Aug. 17 when students arrive for the first day of classes.

After nearly a year-and-a-half of work to remodel a campus that originally opened in 1975, school officials are looking forward to welcoming a student body that includes freshmen and sophomores who are new to the school. This marks the first time since 1994 the Douglas enrollment included freshmen.

Construction project manager Scott McCullough said on Thursday during a campus tour that this marks the culmination of planning that began at least five years ago.

"The best part will be on Aug. 17, when we have hundreds of kids coming through these facilities for the first time," McCullough said. "That will be the payoff as years of work by many will be utilized by the students and staff of DHS."

Among the first new sights to greet students front and center will the Lisa Noonan STEM Building and a new column entry way directly in front of the school.

"It was such an important part of this project because it's hard to find the front door," McCullough said of the entrance. "This is the front door to the school right here. When you see that, you know where to go."

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In the meantime, a cornerstone ceremony will be held on Saturday to dedicate the STEM building. The ceremony is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

The STEM building is expected to be fully operational on the first day.

"So far, all the systems are in place," McCullough said on Thursday. "We'll start with all the permitting and inspections next week, so we are looking good."

Principal Marty Swisher explained that the building contains seven classrooms with accommodations for STEM — an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.

"One of the cool things we've done is place three math teachers across from four science teachers and they're going to connect," he said. "They'll be crossing over and doing projects together, so that is exciting."

McCullough noted that another feature the two-story building offers is safety, since the open student plaza area is no longer within view of Highway 88.

"You could look in and see students, but here now, we have a great connection between the STEM building, the plaza and the commons," he said. "It keeps everybody together more, makes for a better campus that is safer and it just looks a lot better."

The only anticipated delay is the availability of a newly constructed second gym, which is not expected to be ready for student use until some time in September.

"Mostly because the wood floor takes a three-week curing period after the last coat is put on," McCullough explained of the delay. "So it will be done shortly, but it will be waiting to cure before allowing the floor to be used.

"That new small gym is going to be a definite new dimension for DHS athletics," he added. "It has P.E. stations, too, but it's going to be a great facility for athletics overall."

Input was received from Mark Johnson of H&K Architects as well as high school staff members during the early planning stages.

"There were many conversations with existing staff and we had talks about, 'What type of labs do you want?' We really brought everybody in for the design input, so there was good collaboration right from the get-go from the staff for everything you see on the campus," McCullough said.

Swisher noted that the school district, along with Turner Construction and H&K Architects, worked to maximize bond dollars during the project.

"We had addressed both the known changes and issues we wanted to address as well as some unknown items that can occur when you are remodeling an older building," he said. "I compliment all who have been involved in the planning and implementation of the plan and the construction.

"I am excited to see students and staff using the new facilities and for the benefits the changes will bring for our community for many years to come."