In 1996, Rockingham County assessed its facilities and decided to adopt the state-recommended configuration of a pre-K to 5, 6-8, and 9-12 system. In creating a new middle school, the challenge was to build a larger school that maintained the feel of a small school.
A grade-house concept was used to create three small schools—one per grade—within the scope of the COST PER SQ FT$99.29FEATURED IN2000 Architectural Portfolio school. A two-story configuration—stacking two grade houses upon one another and the third grade house on an exploratory wing—ensured that each learning area was close to the support spaces (gymnasium, cafeteria, media center, etc.). Each grade house has an L-shape design allowing the grade levels to be broken down into two smaller teams and spaces. The design centralizes a teacher planning room, restrooms, project rooms and resource rooms between the smaller teams.
Because only 30 acres could be used for the new school, it was vital to maximize space. This was another factor in using the two-story design, but also it ensured that students would walk only minimal distances regardless of grade level to get to the common areas.
The brick structure is air-conditioned, has terrazzo floors throughout the main traffic areas, and a full-size gymnasium that is equipped with a stage. Each classroom has a built-in counter wired for four student computers along with a computer station for the teacher. Monitor displays from any of the computers can be relayed to a large television monitor in the front of each room.
Photographer: ©Philip Beaurline/Beaurline Photography