Richards meets with HHS faculty to discuss new high school plans

As the highly anticipated three-day weekend arrived at Harrisonburg High School, teachers and staff flooded the auditorium after school, chatting patiently while waiting for the arrival of superintendent Dr. Michael Richards.

Currently, overcrowding at the high school is an issue. Due to this ongoing issue, the city decided to construct a second high school in the area. So far, there has been a lot of progress made regarding the plans for the building itself, the programs offered, and how the dynamics will work with the current high school. Many meetings have been held with constructors, students, parents, and now, the entire HHS faculty was informed of the plans and had the opportunity to ask questions for a staff’s point of view. 

Dr. Richards opened the meeting by discussing how the new school will contain innovative learning spaces using modern equipment to provide for the STEM and Fine Arts program and the potential for students being able to move between the schools during the day to take the classes that they want. Teachers had the opportunity to bring up issues that concerned them, such as buses and transportation between and after school in the city. 

“[Buses] are a very big concern, we have been thinking about it and talking to the city about it, and the transportation is of course handled by the city. We don’t want to put words into their mouth but, we are going to work with them and make sure it works,” Richards said during the meeting. “I know there is a concern about that but I can promise you this, we won’t go into this without being fully prepared and very careful when figuring this out.”

Another factor brought up by the HHS faculty was if the new high school would be integrating any environmentally friendly energy sources such as solar panels or geothermal energy sources. Dr. Richards asked Superintendent of Operations and School Safety Craig Mackail to answer these questions. 

“Right now the plan is for lots of geothermal energy… complete geothermal. I know there’s discussion about panels on the ceiling so we will see how that plays out but as of now it is all geothermal. It will be solar ready after the school board does some work with that,” Mackail said.  

Richards informed the group of past discussions that he has had with programming committees, groups of students and groups of parents that have opened his eyes to all of the possibilities and have helped work out some of the logistics for the new school. 

“They wanted the school to really respect a diverse community and be open and accepting to everyone. The students wanted learning to happen everywhere, which is really important. Not just in your standard classroom but everywhere in the school,” Richards said. “This brought us to look importantly at some of the floor plans and work with their visions for the new school. They also talked a lot about how students matter and student centered learning was a big factor.” 

As the date gets closer to the proposed finish of the new high school, more meetings will take place and the details will begin to be locked in for the logistics of the school. To see more updates and read more about the new high school click here. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can click another link to view a list of historical documents regarding the recommendation to build a new high school.