Sentinel High School Principal Ted Fuller admits that adding a cooling system, replacing the heat distribution system and upgrading ventilation isn't very flashy.
“But I think it will have a huge impact on the quality of life here,” he said.
At SHS, the electrical and heating systems haven't been significantly upgraded since the building was finished in 1957, Fuller said. And cooling isn't currently possible at all. But construction using the Smart Schools 2020 bond is set to begin this spring, bringing much needed upgrades to both the structure and the atmosphere of the school.
After months of discussion, SHS's renovation plans were shared with the public Wednesday night in the school's Margaret Johnson Theater. Using about $14.5 million for construction costs of the bond's total $22.5 million, the school will receive upgrades in security, technology, student common space and more.
Don MacArthur from MMW Architects led the presentation, beginning with the adjustments to the school's front entry. A new vestibule with a window to the administration will be built to create a more secure and clear entry area, and all administration will be moved to that part of the building.
The plan also features a new common area for students in the lobby, which will allow them to do homework or spend time together between classes. There are currently no public areas for students, MacArthur said. Another common area will be built upstairs, beside the library.
About 15 people attended the presentation. One woman in the audience — a student's mother and former SHS student herself — said she used to sit on hallway floors when she and her friends needed to do a project together.
The performing arts will be relocated from the building where they're currently housed — separate from the rest of the school. The new area will have better storage and practice rooms, and will be right across the hall from the theater. The new location will significantly improve ADA accessibility as well, Fuller said.
“The daily challenge of getting individuals in wheel chairs to that outside building, across the road in ice and snow… it will be such a game-changer to be able to open accessibility to these performing arts programs to all.”
The former performing arts building will be closed and not used by SHS, Fuller said.
A new elevator toward the front of the school will improve accessibility for students who otherwise had to use the only elevator, located on the opposite end, to get to class.
In what are currently outdoor pickle ball courts, a new indoor STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Math) center with a “maker space” will be created. That space is intended to combine students from welding, wood shop, robotics and other industrial arts to work on projects.
“A kid can just be in this hive of activity and building all in one place,” Fuller said.
The room even has space to park a car for the auto students, though the auto building will also be renovated to maximize space.
Other more minor upgrades, like seismic supports to meet building standards, will also be added. Construction is expected to begin this spring and be finished by summer 2020.
“We think the project's going to be pretty cool,” MacArthur said. “And our hope is the experience of the school makes sense and starts to fit the culture of Sentinel and the goal of the place, for every student to feel comfortable.”