Marysville Getchell campus wins high marks for design

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Getchell High School campus started attracting attention years before students walked into their classes for the first time.

The 40-acre campus set back in a second-growth forest opened in September 2010 but began receiving recognition for its architectural and educational design as early as 2007. It has since earned a total of 13 awards.

Senior Louie Vital on Tuesday looked at a list of the awards her school has earned. She already thought her school was something special before reading the list.

“I watched it being built and I could not stop just marveling at it,” said Louie, 17. “This school is very different. It’s one of a kind. It’s unprecedented.”

The campus, designed by DLR Group in Seattle, has won awards on both state and national levels. Almost all of the entries were submitted by DLR Group.

“It’s amazing how much attention this school has gotten,” said Todd Ferking, a project manager with DLR Group. “No one would have necessarily expected it out of little old Marysville. We’ve taken many national clients through the school.”

The latest award for the school was given in late April by Learning By Design, a guide that showcases the top education design projects throughout the country. The campus is featured as one of three grand prize winners from a total of 54 contest entries. The other grand prize winners for spring 2012 included the NAC Architecture for Machias Elementary School in Snohomish and a school in Houston, Texas.

The school’s four small learning communities are each contained in their own buildings. They are the Academy of Construction and Engineering, the Bio-Med Academy, the International School of Communications, and the School for the Entrepreneur.

A shared building, known as the Charger Outlet, offers a dining area with stage, a gym and a fitness center with an indoor track. An outdoor track, multiple sports fields and tennis courts are also shared by all students at Marysville Getchell. The Marysville School District had one main high school, Marysville Pilchuck, and three smaller alternative schools before Marysville Getchell opened.

Marysville Pilchuck was originally built in the early 1970s for a student population of 1,850. At one point the school had the highest enrollment in the state.

There were about 2,800 students on the campus before Marysville Getchell opened, able to accommodate 1,600 students, said John Bingham, the district’s capital projects director.

The new school cost $94.4 million to design and build. The price tag was less than the $99.2 million overall cost of the new Lynnwood High School, which opened in September 2009, and more than the $87.3 million Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish that opened in September 2008.

Groups from throughout the country have visited Marysville Getchell to learn about its construction and educational design. More than 30 tours of the campus have been given since it opened, Bingham said. A future tour set for October is with educators from England, Germany and Australia, Bingham added.

“We’ve had other district school boards, administrators, and community members come in that are thinking about doing something similar,” he said. “We learned from folks before we started and now it’s time for us to share with people some of the success we’ve had.”

That success includes students embracing the educational layout of the campus and the energy efficiency of building operations. The Marysville School District has received incentive grants from utility districts for building beyond the energy code at Marysville Getchell, Bingham said.

Louie, who is part of the Shool for the Entrepreneur, became involved in forming the school’s constitution when she was a freshman attending Marysville Pilchuck High School. Students and teachers at Marysville Getchell are able to form strong relationships in the smaller schools, she said. The buildings’ large windows are also a plus.

“There’s windows everywhere and it’s so much more inviting and bright,” she said. “It just makes learning so much better.”

The campus structure can mean that students have to make more of an effort to see friends who take classes in the other buildings, said Tanner Wilcoxson, a sophomore who is also part of the School for the Entrepreneur.

“I don’t really see my friends from other academies very often,” said Tanner, 16. “We’re growing older, so it’s easier to see them after school.”

Senior Katherine LaRosa, 17, said she appreciates the cleanliness of the school campus and said she tries to do her part to keep it that way.

“Whenever I walk around I pick up trash and try to set the example of let’s not be like other schools,” she said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491;

Innovative education

Here are the awards given to the innovative design of Marysville Getchell High School in Marysville


•Learning By Design — grand prize, national level


•National School Board Association Award Exhibition of School Architecture — grand prize, national level

•Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, committee on Architecture for Education, national level

•MacConnell Award, Council of Educational Facility Planners International, national level

•Polished Apple Award, Council of Educational Facility Planners International, Washington Chapter, state level

•Educational Design Showcase — grand prize, School Planning &Management magazine, national level

•Merit Award, Civic Design Award, American Institute of Architects, Washington Council, state level

•High School Citation, American School &University magazine, national level


•Outstanding Design, Educational Interiors Showcase, American School &University magazine, national level

•Design Concept Award, Council of Educational Facility Planners International, Washington Chapter, state level


•Merit Award, DesignShare, national level

•Citation Award, Exhibition of School Architecture, National School Boards Association, national level

•Best in Competition, Design INconcept, International Interior Design Association, Northern, regional level award

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