New BHS boasts vast improvements

Published 8:04 pm Friday, February 13, 2009

Ground breaking on the construction of the new Bainbridge High School took place in March 2007, and now, less than two years later, the facility is 92 percent complete, said Decatur County Superintendent Ralph Jones.

With major construction completed, both Jones and Head of Maintenance and Construction Jerry Mills say they have been more than pleased with the pace, oversight and lack of significant obstacles during construction of the new facility, which is a joint project between Allstate Construction out of Tallahassee, Fla., and JCI General Contractors out of Moultrie, Ga.

“We have been very satisfied with the construction, contractors and architects and their willingness to work with us,” Jones said regarding the project.

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The new Bainbridge High School was designed by Keith Barry of Altman and Barrett Architects, from Valdosta, Ga., who designed West Bainbridge Elementary School and oversaw renovations made to the existing Bainbridge High School and several other Decatur County schools. Barry’s design incorporates classic roman architecture into a modern facility that boast numerous advancements and improvements of the existing BHS.

Safety aspects

Moving into a vastly larger facility, one aspect of improvement that will ease the minds of parents is safety.

The new school has a security checkpoint at each entrance. The student and visitor entrance has a guard station where all vehicles entering the property will be monitored. Visitors to the school will have to show identification before they can park and will be issued a pass. The person monitoring the station will have a monitor that will allow them to see vehicles entering through the service entrance also and will remotely open gates for those entering.

When visitors enter the school, they will only have access to the school’s lobby—no longer being able to enter straight into the school.

BHS Principal Tommie Howell said the guidance and attendance offices at the current facility are not located at the entrance of the school, which forces visitors to travel the hallways. He explained at the new school, both offices will be accessed through the front lobby with the doors leading into the school controlled by a buzzer system.

“It’s a much more secure environment,” said Howell. He elaborated saying students in apprenticeship and work study programs will have to check out before they leave campus.

In order to keep watch over students, the decision was made to place administrators offices throughout the school instead of at one central location so they can have better control over the vastly larger facility, said Jones.

Mills also explained that school resource officers will have a much more sophisticated video surveillance system with cameras located in the many hallways and locations throughout the school.

Mills noted that each area of the high school is largely self contained with restroom facilities located throughout the building, including each hallway, the media center and the cafeteria. He said this will limit the number of students traveling through the halls during class time.

Technological advances

Bainbridge High School is prepared to jump into a new era that promises increased capacity for learning for Decatur County students by not only providing more than adequate space for educators, but embracing modern technological teaching tools.

One large step forward is providing greater access to computers and the Internet to students. The ability for teachers to utilize computers for teaching is apparent throughout the new facility with nearly every classroom equipped with an area for a number of computers. Educators will also have access to computer classrooms, each containing 25 to 30 computers, for lessons where entire classes can access a computer simultaneously.

One lab is located in the media center and the other is located in a new addition to BHS—a technology lab. In addition to computers, the lab will also be equipped will a sound room and area for filming video—providing a number of multimedia capabilities like broadcast announcements to classroom televisions, recording entire lessons and filming student activities such as mock trials, etc.

A great deal of consideration was also given to monitoring student’s activities while using computers, said Jones. He explained that the majority of media center computers will be located in the center of the room at low tables so media specialists can maintain oversight. Business education classrooms were also designed so instructors can see the computer monitors from their desk at the front of the room by staggering the location of monitors.

Much needed expansion

With roughly 1,600 students currently attending BHS, the new school provides room for growth in the number of students as well as academically.

The hallways at the new school exceed the width of even the widest hallway at the current facility to eliminate congestion problems that are dealt with on a daily basis, Howell said. A new feature at the school are lockers that no longer sit on the floor, but are recessed into walls—freeing up more room for student and faculty to maneuver.

Faculty input had a large impact on the design of the new school.

“Department chairs sat down with the architect to explain what they needed,” Jones said.

Additional classrooms, offices, labs and conference rooms were added, not only to accommodate the current BHS students and faculty, but to allow for future growth.

Jones pointed out that a number of classrooms at BHS currently have to double as labs were expanded. For instance, agricultural science classes will have a separate area for livestock/agriculture studies; the art room will have a studio area for students to paint as well as a separate room for classroom teaching; health occupations classes will have a number of separate simulated hospital rooms and family and consumer sciences will have a separate facility for commercial food preparation.

Howell explained that the upgraded labs and facilities will also allow for a number of upper level fourth-year electives to be offered in a more vigorous and academically adequate manner.

Looking forward to the move

This summer when the new BHS is complete, the school will be open for the public to tour the new facility.

Orientations will be held for students and faculty to acclimate themselves with their new school.

Howell said a major obstacle will not be making the move, but creating a smooth flow as students navigate the new facility.

“The biggest challenge will be establishing an effective and efficient daily procedures,” said Howell.

Howell expressed the excitement that is felt throughout the BHS population about their new school and the academic year to come.

“We as a faculty are very excited about the move to the new school and the potential it has to better serve our students, and we are also very aware of our obligations to provide classes and programs to the highest quality,” Howell said.