Work on new Student Center in 800 wing begins

January 29, 2018 — by Elaine Toh and Ananya Vadlakonda

At the start of the spring semester, the remodeling of the 800 wing into the much anticipated Student Center and Wellness Center has finally begun. Workers have already placed fences around the building, and they are beginning the demolition process.

With the plans for the building still being reviewed by the state for approval, the administration is looking for contractors to bid on the project. Robinson said that once the district officials decide on the construction company, they will be able to start actual construction.

Once work begins in the spring, Robinson anticipates it will be done by the next school year since the work is fairly minor remodeling compared to the the brand new construction required for the new music building.

The focus on creating a new student center began after the completion of the new music building in August. Wanting to continue campus renovations to fulfill the ultimate goal of meeting the needs of both students and staff alike, the school’s leadership came up with the idea to remodel the heart of the school’s campus, the 800 wing.

Previously, the 800 wing housed old music rooms and drama supplies. It also held the copy room and a lab for the Media Arts Program (MAP). (The copy room will continue to be in the 800 wing).

Realizing the school could use an area where students can comfortably de-stress and enjoy themselves, Robinson and the other administrators felt that converting this space into the Student Center and Wellness Center was the best use of  remaining Measure E bond money.

One of the many uses of the Student Center will be a new meeting space for ASB and other Leadership class students; the class currently meets in the Team Room near the pool.

The facility will also house several smaller conference rooms where students can work together, Robinson said.

Additionally, the administration is relocating CASSY, the school’s mental health service, to the building and aiming to make it a Wellness Center for all students.

“It will be a nice place for people to go and just chill and be quiet and get some hot tea,” Robinson said, “and just have a nice little quiet calming place in the center.”

Though CASSY counselor Kaitlin Eastland likes the program's current secluded location in West Wing 2, she believes that being in a more central area in the school will increase accessibility for the students and help students further understand the importance of their mental health and well-being.

“We hope that this new centralized location will promote further destigmatization of mental health and become a regularly accessed resource of support and connection,” Eastland said.

In order to fulfill the goal of accessibility, the school plans to extend the building a few feet closer to the top of the quad steps, creating an entrance that will help students move in and out easily.

“[The administrators and I] wanted it to be kind of an extension of that whole quad area,” Robinson said. “So, we’re working with the contractors and architects to create a collapsible wall — a wall that we call peel back in some way so there is a free flow between the quad and that building.”

The school also decided to put a gender neutral bathroom in the back of the 800 wing. Robinson said that this additional bathroom will both keep the school in accordance with the current laws and “give students a safe space.”


MAP Annex moves ahead

In addition to the remodeling of the 800 building, the school is still finishing work on the new MAP Annex, which is located in the previous music building.

The administration is planning on permanently moving a few classes that had previously been held in room 304, such as Digital Photography and Animated Graphics, to the old choir room in the MAP Annex, as soon as the administration is able to figure out all the logistics. Robinson believes that the move might happen as soon as early February.

As a result, room 304, where SHSTV and digital photography are now taught, will be opened up to host non-MAP courses. By moving all MAP-related classes to the new annex, Media Arts classes will no longer be scattered throughout campus.

“It’s really beneficial for the MAP Program and it’s opening up some more opportunities,” MAP junior Maddie Stuart said. “I know that MAP Leadership is also working on getting another committee within MAP to try to start providing some more opportunities for students who work with costumes and props.”

Though the MAP Annex is mainly used by the Media Arts Program, other classes will also have the opportunity to use this space.

When you provide the space, people start changing some things they are doing to be able to take advantage of the space,” Robinson said. “I think everyone is really going to utilize it from time to time.