Clarksdale Municipal School District (CMSD) faced a problem common amongst most inner-city public school districts in the Mississippi Delta: Enrollment at several of its schools was growing at such a rate that expansion was inevitable, while a few of its schools faced the hard reality of both low academic performance and poor socioeconomic stigmas. To COST PER SQ FT$92.00FEATURED IN2011 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation performance districtwide, CMSD developed a magnet school concept to enhance the exposure of its students to diversified fields of curriculum, and also committed to a seven-year facility- improvements campaign.
The architect worked with CMSD leadership to transform the facilities at W.A. Higgins Academy to match the progressive nature of its new curriculum, and overcome the loss of students to its sister school campuses. The existing outdated and deteriorated buildings were modernized to meet new classroom standards; an entry addition was completed; and a new Visual and Performing Arts Building was constructed to house state-of-the-art music suites and art classrooms.
The design team was challenged with trying conditions of the Mississippi Delta soils, limited construction budgets and a tight schedule for occupancy. The newly renovated campus features metal panel exteriors, innovative heat-pump mechanical systems, acoustical treatments and furniture throughout the music suites, and a sprung dance floor.
Today, W.A. Higgins Academy offers strings, band, keyboard, choral, dance and art instruction for grades 6 to 8, and boasts a new image for its community.