Student Advisory Council meets with Dr. Richards and architects to give input on new high school


Maya Waid

Architects from Grimm and Parker go through a powerpoint containing design ideas for the new high school. The group of HCPS ask questions throughout the presentation.

Exceeding capacity with a total of 1800 students, Harrisonburg High School has become an overcrowded building to all students and faculty. Due to this issue, gym pep rallies are cancelled, class changes are longer and lunch periods are shorter. Addressing this problem, the HCPS board finialized the plan to build a new high school for the city. A group of parents, teachers, administrators and students around the community have been part of the process in making decisions regarding the new school.

In efforts of discussing plans for the new school, 11 students from HCPS gathered in an outdoor classroom with a room full of teachers, parents, administrators, architects and the new superintendent, Dr. Michael G. Richards. After joining the community this year, Richards has found meeting with students and other members around Harrisonburg to be rewarding when trying to contribute ideas for another high school.

“The highlight of my time so far has been meeting passionate and dedicated students, employees, families and community members. Perhaps the most important of all of my meetings was with my Student Advisory Council, a great group of students who shared their ideas, hopes and dreams for this new space. Their input is most important because the space is being built for them,” Richards said. “One thing they made clear to me, and I want everyone to know, is that no matter where a student goes to school in Harrisonburg city, he or she will receive a high quality education.”

Assistant superintendent Pat Lintner has worked with this group of students during his time serving as interim superintendent of HCPS. The group of students, otherwise known as the Student Advisory Committee (SAC), has been meeting with Lintner since October, contributing a significant amount of input regarding the plans for the new high school.

“This was the first meeting of the group with the intent of discussing programming the new high school. Student voices are valued in the process… I anticipate their input being a real factor in the ultimate design of the building,” Lintner said.

Although Lintner has taken the lead on the majority of the meeting with the SAC, the meeting was run by a different group of people who will be greatly involved in developing the new school’s infrastructure. The architects from Grimm and Parker, a construction company located outside of Charlottesville who are in charge of this project, ran the majority of the meeting by presenting design ideas.

The 90-minute presentation allowed for the architects to go back and forth with both Richards and the group of students while asking questions and having in-depth discussions about various topics. One of the students who was the most involved in asking questions regarding the design of the new school was freshman Genesis Martinez.

“A lot of progress was made, although all we did was communicate ideas. In any project, communication is necessary to execute the physical plan. The most interesting part was being able to discuss what ‘wow factors’ we wanted to see in the new school and being able to give our views on the plans made for the school so far,” Martinez said. “My experience with Mr. Lintner has been extremely beneficial for me. I have learned a lot about different students and made connections that can be used to make a positive impact on the community as a whole.”

The majority of the meeting involved various administrators and teachers going into the smallest details regarding the structure of the new school. These details include things such as if there will be outdoor locker rooms, how handicap accessible the school will be, what classrooms will look like, if both high schools will have programs such as JROTC, STEM and AVID, and other details as well. Senior Command Sergeant Major Guillermo Lopez was one of the main advocates at the meeting for the JROTC program.

“The meeting made me feel that as a student my voice is very important and as students many times we think we need to keep things to ourselves because we feel like adults do not listen to us; however, at the meeting I knew I could stand up for how I’m feeling despite if I wanted to agree to disagree with the adults,” Lopez said. “As far as JROTC, I want it to stay here [current HHS] because it is more than tradition; it is a big family. We have done our thing at this school for many years and it would require a lot of effort to start a new program at a new school and have it be successful.”

The next meeting to continue the discussion of the new high school will be held Thursday, May 29 at Central Office in Harrisonburg.

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