Gustavo Herrera operates chop saw under the steps of the new commons area for the new Lakewood High School on Tuesday in Lakewood. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Slowly but surely, new Lakewood High School is taking shape

LAKEWOOD — The steel frames of future classrooms are up for the new Lakewood High School.

The building is taking shape next to the current school. An unusually wet October set back construction, but project leaders say they still aim to have the school open for students in fall 2017. Superintendent Michael Mack expects to have a plan in place in case they need to wait a couple of months.

“With the main academic wings, we are on schedule and possibly, cross my fingers, a little bit ahead of schedule,” he said. “With the performing arts and athletics wing, we are a little behind schedule, unfortunately.”

On a chilly Tuesday morning, dozens of workers framed windows, installed mechanical systems, finished stairs and built walls for the gym and theater.

The new high school is 160,000 square feet with two main wings of classrooms that connect to a large common area and a shared courtyard. The library is on the second floor overlooking the courtyard. Group work areas connect to classrooms. There’s a secure evening entrance for the theater and gym so the school can be locked for the night without blocking access to events.

The classroom wings are nearly identical, said Stephen Black, project manager with McGranahan Architects. The difference is that one wing is designed to have a large art classroom and the other a fabrication classroom, both connected to computer labs. The fabrication room “is kind of a new-age woodshop where students can experiment with different materials,” Black said.

In every classroom, including those on the first floor, a light system built with reflective metal tubes and filters directs daylight from the roof into the room. They’ll look like electric lights but dispense natural light, Black said.

Among the steel-framed classrooms are a nutrition room where students can learn to plan and cook healthy meals and a business room that connects to the student store and a production lab for morning newscasts.

“What’s so exciting when you build a new school is you really have time to decide how you want to do your programs,” said Laura Brent, project manager for the school district.

The new artificial turf field and track are done. The field was used for football this fall.

Classes continue at the existing high school while the new one is under construction. In the spring, some classes may be moved to temporary locations as work on parking, bus turn-arounds and tennis courts encroaches on one corner of the school.

The next phase of construction, once the school has a roof, is going to take place mostly indoors. Drivers won’t see new walls, doors or windows when they pass, Black said. However, the pace isn’t slowing, he said.

“We had a really aggressive schedule to begin with, but we’ve had a few things put stress on it,” Black said. “We’re a couple of days behind, but we’re hopeful we can make that up.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

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