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Theater, tech, art featured in new BHS facilities

With Bainbridge high schoolers having returned to campus, they are now utilizing new and updated buildings that aim to enhance educational opportunities for technology and arts.

The long-anticipated unveiling of the new 100 Building and renovated commons of the 200 Building at Bainbridge High has finally arrived. Both buildings have been utilized in some capacity since the return of students on March 1.

The $40 million project is being paid for by a bond measure passed in 2016 and in part by a capital levy approved by voters in 2019.

The 100 Building is designed for Career Technical Education and Arts and includes common spaces for educational activities besides eating. The old commons space was in the 200 Building, which was transformed into a theater. The new commons is at the heart of the campus and adjacent to the administrative offices in the 200 Building, said Tamela Van Winkle, BISD executive director of facilities, operations & capital projects.

“There’s excellent visual access for administrators, and it brings a synergy up to the center of campus,” she said. “The architectural design is intended to engage students and includes numerous windows that provide an opportunity for students to view classroom activities as they pass through the hallways. It’s very transparent and inviting, which will inspire students to participate in these classes.”

All classes open into common spaces, which are adjacent to the kitchen servery and the industrial arts environment. Classrooms and instructional spaces in the building consist of labs for composites, metal, culinary arts, drafting, and 2D and 3D art, along with woodshop and music rooms.

The new building includes an innovation lab, designed as a maker space where students can work on a multitude of projects. The lab is the size of two classrooms where one half is devoted to a design lab with computers while the other is flexible with tables that can be reconfigured or removed.

With classrooms adjacent to the large and small commons, teachers can extend their classroom footprint.

“For instance, if they are having a robotics class, they could move from the innovation lab into the commons space, with very high ceilings, which are ideal for testing robots. Art classes can move from their classroom to the commons and to outside covered areas, each specifically designed with learning in mind,” Van Winkle said.

The new 100 Building is in the footprint of the old 100 building, which was torn down in the summer of 2019. The old building was also used for tech and art classes but was “less than adequate,” Van Winkle said.

Work on the 100 Building will continue through early April, such as exterior work and landscaping. These areas will be fenced off and will not impede safe walking routes in and out of the building, school board documents say. The work will be done during non-school hours.

Van Winkle said the district worked with a theater consultant to design the performance area, backstage support, enhance the lighting, audio, seating, acoustics and visual elements. The facility has a drama and vocal classroom that will also be used for rehearsals and black box productions. There is also a space for make-up and dressing.

The newly equipped sound booth is located behind the seats and a tension grid is above the stage, which was designed to be walked on, hang lights and set decorations.

Work on the BHS campus began last year but endured minor delays for various reasons, including the discovery of abandoned water lines, pipes containing asbestos, contaminated soil, weather issues and of course COVID-19.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity this is going to bring to our students and to our community,” Van Winkle said. “I think the community is going to use this in a multitude of ways. The spaces are beautiful and inspiring.”

Community tours will take place March 26-27. Due to social distancing requirements, reservations are required as space is limited. Sign up at bisd303.org.

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