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Wando considered a workforce development pipeline

  • Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This overhead view of the new Wando Center for Advanced Studies shows the completed project which will open to students Monday. PROVIDED BY CUMMING

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Wando High School principal Lucy Beckham will swing open the doors to the school's new Center for Advanced Studies next Monday. The final touches are being applied to the innovative learning center.

The Wando Center for Advanced Studies bridges the gap between high school and college, providing technical skills and training beyond the high school level. The new three-story, 130,000-square-foot academic building is primarily a vocational facility expected to accommodate around 600 juniors and seniors.

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 took 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, biomedical 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 was $49.7 million. This was funded in the 2011-2016 capital building plan.

On Aug. 9, 2010, the Charleston County School Board adopted a resolution which provides for a six-year, one-penny sales tax for capital improvements. On Nov. 2, 2010, Charleston County residents voted in favor of this resolution on the general election ballot. The tax will expire in 2016.

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 auto mechanics, horticulture and cosmetology. 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.

What is distinctive about the center is the availability of career counseling, so students can focus on where they want to go after a professional has helped them determine their interests.

However, they'll receive required certificates to work with the option of continuing on in their advanced certification while working full time.

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,'” said Beckham.

“High school is no longer an assembly line. There are now choices and pathways for each student based on their skills and interest.”

In other words, Wando has become a workforce development pipeline.

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.

The Sweetgrass Cafe is two-story cafeteria-style diner with high-top tables, booths and outdoor dining.

All classrooms have large windows looking outside and looking into hallways.

A photography studio features a state-of-the art darkroom in addition to digital imaging resources. Graphic production will be offered as well as a full-blown television studio, sound both and integrated editing studio.

Art students will also enjoy a full-service art studio.

Similar to college campuses, teachers will have their own office areas while others are using the shared classroom space for instruction.

Conference rooms feature large-screen televisions and electronics, but are floor-to-ceiling glass for a modern feel. They'll be used for collaborative learning purposes, much like the product-producing curriculum being offered in the center.

Along the main entrance will be a video wall with student-made videos depicting the Wando experience. Those videos can also be switched over should there be a need to broadcast breaking news.

One of the neatest aspects of the building, designed to look and feel like a college learning center, is the rooftop teaching garden. It will be watered by a cistern and monitored by students.

This project is designed to LEED Silver specifications and features daylighting strategies, a high-efficiency mechanical system.

For more updates from the desk of the Moultrie News editor, Sully Witte, please follow Sully's Scoop on Twitter @SullysScoop and like Sully's Scoop Facebook page.

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