The new Lynnwood High School building doesn’t open until fall 2009, but already students are talking about it.
The new school, slated to cost about $99.7 million, will offer a dramatically different environment for Lynnwood students.
“My friend’s a freshman and was talking about it last week,” said Lynnwood senior Rosa Ascencio. “Many people are excited ‘cause they will have a new building, new classrooms.”
Some students also are concerned. They wonder where they’ll hang out after school, since the new site is far from businesses. Some worry that the new campus has fewer entrances to come and go and that students might be more separated by grade level.
The current building, built in 1971, is ageing and has structural problems. Its classrooms are partly indoors and part outdoors, California-style, which exposes students to the elements. It sits on a swamp creek, so pumps run 24 hours a day to keep the school from flooding.
The new building, located on North Road a mile east of the existing school, will be all indoors and two stories high. Substantial completion is projected for spring 2009.
One of the new school’s improvements will be a central place for students to socialize, something the current school lacks, said principal David Golden.
“What the architects heard from students is that kids wanted a place where they could see each other and be seen,” Golden said.
A long open space called the “agora” stretches like a belt down the middle of the new school, over 500 feet long. In that space, students will be able to eat, stand around or study at tables, and there may be kiosks selling food.
It’s like a mall, but instead of stores there are classrooms and elective spaces like the theater and gym branching off of it, Golden said.
At the current school, students congregate where they can. They hang out under overhangs, in front of the library or outside the music department. They’ve carved out a space in one building called “Senior Cove,” a tiny corner of lockers that’s probably an architectural accident, Golden said.
The new school also offers separate wings of classrooms, with science rooms in various areas of the school. At the current school, all science rooms are in one area, which means students must travel to that area for science.
“Kids are like ping pong balls going from one side of the campus to the other,” Golden said. “(In the new school) we will try to put together groups so kids don’t have to travel as much as they do now.”
Golden said one wing could offer mostly sophomore or freshman classes, for example, but there’s no set plan around that yet.
The design also allows for a small schools model like Mountlake Terrace High School’s, though there’s no plan for that right now, Golden said.
In addition, each of the new school’s wings will have two conference rooms and glassed-in areas where students can work together outside the classroom – in group projects, for example.
The current school’s miniscule theater with its hard desks for audience chairs also will get an upgrade in the new school.
“It’s the most uncomfortable place to watch a play,” Golden said. Right now, the stage is too small to do musicals, but a larger stage at the new school will open that door.
The building as a whole will get more natural light because of sky lights and light shafts that bring light down to the lower stories, said Neil Neroutsos, spokesperson for the Snohomish County PUD.
Windows will be placed to get sunlight and there will be natural ventilation which brings in outside air.
Those and other improvements, including efficient lights and extra occupancy sensors, are projected to save 50 percent more on electricity than a building that merely meets code.
As for entrances at the new school, Golden said there will probably be three main entrances. Once school gets going during the day, visitors will probably all come to the main door out front, Golden said. The current school, where many classrooms open to the outside, makes security difficult, Golden said.
“It’s a security nightmare if someone got on campus,” he said.
In addition, the administrative and counseling offices in the current building are clustered near the front of the school. In the new school, those offices will be embedded throughout the building, Golden said.
Voters approved replacing the school when they approved a $140 million construction bond for projects districtwide in 2006.