Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Molly Spearman, candidate for State Superintendant of Education, paid a visit to Wando High School earlier this month as part of her state tour to pinpoint school successes and needs.
Principal Lucy Beckham invited the Moultrie News on a tour of the new Advanced Studies Building, that is under construction and slated for completion this summer.
Spearman's platform is based around high school reform and innovative programs. Beckham was confident the new facility would be appropriate to showcase. And it was.
Wando High School is regarded as one of the top schools in the state. The Wando Center For Advanced Studies is set up into three sections; the Center for Advanced Studies, the Horticulture Building and the Automotive Building.
The center is expected to accommodate around 600 students. This unique learning center is designed to educate all interested high school students in the eastern region of Charleston County, including students from Lincoln High School.
According to Beckham, courses offered in this new learning center are dual-credit courses which are college-level courses taken in high school that count for college credits.
The project manager is Harold Lee of Cumming Corporation. Lee headed up the construction of Cane Bay High School, Beaufort High School and currently Jennie Moore and Laing Middle at the new Sweetgrass Campus. LS3P Associates is responsible for the design of the Wando Center for Advanced Studies. It is one of the largest architecture firms in the Carolinas and designer of both Wando High School and West Ashley High School.
Construction of the Center for Advanced Studies is taking place on a 5.2-acre site immediately in front of the existing Wando High School. Students will change classes via a covered walkway from the high school building to the center. The 130,000-square-foot facility will serve students currently enrolled at Wando High from the District 2 enrollment area. The facility will include both classroom and lab spaces for programs such as Horticulture, Cosmetology, Health Care, Public Safety/Homeland Security, Emergency Medical Services, Childcare, Bio-medical Science, and Film/Multimedia/Visual Arts. There will also be office space designated to share with Trident Technical College, who will partner instructional services with Wando High, as well as have use of the facility for after-hours instruction,
Cost of construction is budgeted at $49.7 million.
These specialized courses being offered in the new facility allow students to earn dual credits, Beckham explained.
For example, there are students who may not be on track to attend college, however, they can earn needed certificates to graduate from high school and head straight to the workforce. This would include the areas of study in automechanics, horticulture and cosmetology.
Beckham and her team worked with the local business community to see what was available in the local workforce, what type of employees were needed and what training would be required. “We're building stairsteps for these students and teaching them to 'look, pick and plan.'”
High school is no longer an assembly line. There are now choices and pathways for each student based on their skills and interest,” said Beckham.
She said electives are no longer random choices. They are chosen by students based on where they want to go in life.
The new facility will also allow for the expansion of biomedical studies pathway, engineering pathway and cyber security pathway studies, she said.
A health science lab will enable students to be on their way to earning their nursing certificates.
“There are some students who cannot afford a four year college and it is essential we offer the needed certificates so they can become employed in the field of their choice,” Beckham said. Students can finish high school here with advanced standing or a workforce certification.”
The Center for Advanced Studies is designed for students to have a viable plan. While it does cost money to take the dual-credit hours through Trident Technical College, the more a student enrolls in, the less the cost is, and by far it is less expensive than enrolling in the courses after high school graduation.
Inside students will find 11 classrooms, a studio arts lab, a health science lab, seven science labs, a rooftop garden for horticulture studies, a computer studio for placement testing, a digital library for research, administrative offices, a cafe, collaborative learning and group study rooms, and conference rooms.
Traffic patterns will change and additional security will be added when the facility opens. There will be a “Welcome Center” also considered a guard gate in which visitors will check in. All traffic will be held at the gate while students change classes.
Beckham, who came on board at Wando in 1998, helped facilitate the closing of the old Wando campus and designed and transitioned students to the new school in 2004. The Center for Advanced Studies has essentially always been part of the vision for upward momentum at Wando.