Architects meet with final programming committee to get feedback

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Architects meet with final programming committee to get feedback

The team of architects from Grimm and Parker speak to the last programming committee on May 30.

The team of architects from Grimm and Parker speak to the last programming committee on May 30.

Maya Waid

The team of architects from Grimm and Parker speak to the last programming committee on May 30.

Maya Waid

Maya Waid

The team of architects from Grimm and Parker speak to the last programming committee on May 30.

Maya Waid, Page Editor

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A group of 25 administrators, designers, counselors, principals, parents, and athletic directors gathered downtown on May 30  to give their input on the plans for the new high school.This was the last of six meetings to gauge input about the building of the second high school in Harrisonburg.  

Opening the meeting was Assistant Superintendent of Operations and School Safety, Craig Mackail. After introductions, he then handed the meeting over to Paul Klee, an architect at Grimm and Parker. Klee began to show the group the presentation to gather new and insightful feedback.

One concern that was brought up immediately by both Guidance Director Rachel Linden and current HHS principal Cynthia Prieto was flexibility in all spaces.

“I think that not every space needs to be flexible although I think that there needs to be as much flexibility as possible. There are times where we need to reorganize what we are doing based on the needs and space. Also, we need spaces that can be used when classes are in session that can be converted for larger groups,” Linden said. “Not every space needs to be flexible but definitely the majority should be. The architects also mentioned having moveable furniture in the new school which will also make a big difference in being able to have those flexible spaces. “

Prieto also brought up the point of needing space for the high school’s Therapeutic Day Treatment (TDT) group. These counselors encourage students to continue to come to school and help with things such as anxiety and depression.

“The TDT group will need something similar to the counseling suite where there are individual offices as well as a group area for things such as group meetings and peer support. Also, they need private space, which is what we don’t have for them right now. This is because they sometimes need a private space to just be alone and collect themselves,” Prieto said.

As the meeting progressed and the group went through many ideas, another main idea brought up by HHS bookkeeper Tamara Atkins was the need for service throughout the building on a daily basis.

“I feel that it is critical to be able to communicate especially if there was an emergency.  If there was an intruder for example, that would be necessary. Also, it’s often an employee may need to use their laptop in a different place than their office, classroom, etc.,” Atkins said.

The room of adults bounced between the topics of having stairwells that are not inviting to be in so that students are encouraged to attend class and the location of the nurse, counseling, and private rooms throughout the school. Many of the administrators in attendance stressed the point of needing sound proof walls and office spaces so that conversations are ensured to be confidential rather than easily overheard.

“I think confidentiality is critical for things like individual meetings. These are not necessarily super secret meetings but they still need to be private conversations. For example, a parent teacher conference does not need to be overheard by everyone in the next door offices,” Prieto said.

As the meeting progressed, Mackail sat and occasionally joined the discussion to either clarify a point or add on to a colleague’s view. He also believes the meetings held over the past three weeks allowed for different groups to share very beneficial information.

“I think the Programming Committee meetings went very well and the Design Team gathered a great deal of information from all the stakeholders in attendance. The Design Team will now take all the information they gathered from all Programming Meetings, the Public Input Meeting and the Student Meeting and begin to incorporate those ideas into the design of the building,” Mackail said. “The input that was provided by these meetings is crucial to the overall design process and will impact the design and programming of the building.”

The next meeting will be held on June 6. This meeting will be where the architects take all of the input  they have collected from the various programming committees and will collaborate with the design committee to make the final decisions regarding the structure and features of the new school.

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