Work on new student wellness center expected to start this fall

September 1, 2017 — by Kaylene Morrison and Katherine Zhou

School utilizes Measure E funds to refurbish school and centralize student services. 

Students have grown used to constant construction around campus in recent years. But even more construction is coming soon in the form of the remodeling of the 800 wing, located above the quad steps in the center of campus.

The building, which in recent years has been used for the music program, drama storage, the Media Arts Program and the technology department, will be remodeled to create a “wellness center,” a spot catering to the students' well-being, assistant principal Brian Thompson said.

The space will include rooms for teacher collaboration, CASSY counseling services and a new addition to campus:  a student center that will double as the Leadership class’ classroom. The 800 wing will still include the copy room and also have a staff lounge and data room in the rear of the building.

According to principal Paul Robinson,construction on the center, which is estimated to cost between $2.5 to $3 million is projected to begin within the next few months as the school gains final approval for plans.

Because the 800 wing’s basic structure is already built, the completion date of the refurbished facility is estimated to be sometime around February or spring break, Robinson said. The outside of the building is going to stay mostly the same, but the remodeling will also bring it up to code and modernized.

“On the inside, we will be busting down just about every wall in there and reconfiguring things to create some really nice spaces for students.”

The idea for a wellness center started about five years ago, when voters approved the Measure E Bond, allocating $44 million to Saratoga High and $55 million to the larger Los Gatos High School. After considering different options such as using the space for the tutoring center, the administration settled on this plan.

”We had done some research on wellness centers in San Francisco and really liked the ideas that they had about putting it in the center of the campus, so students have a lot more open access to it,” Robinson said. “We’re going to follow that model.”

The main goal of the change is to create a student area at the center of the campus where students can come in to relax and get away from academic stress.

The administration hopes that the wellness center will also be a place where students can receive help from CASSY counselors or simply spend time together in a non-academic setting. Because the building is in the center of campus, administrators hope it will be accessible enough to encourage students to come there often.

 

“I think we’ve done a lot of work to reduce student stress in our community,” Thompson said. “We want our students to de-stress. That’s why we’re planning on calling this area is the ‘wellness center’: to continue to promote social and emotional wellness for our students.”

Thompson also hopes that centralizing CASSY will help destigmatize assumptions that sometimes come with receiving help for mental health.

We have hundreds of students that receive these services every year, and there isn’t any reason why it shouldn’t be in the center of our campus,” Thompson said.

Just in front of CASSY’s room will be the new student center, and the entire front wall will be made mostly of glass and have “doors that open so wide that it’ll be a free flow between the quad and the center,” according to Thompson. The goal is to have the lounge area feel like an extension of the quad.

Robinson mentioned that there is a possibility of having a cafe of some kind in the student center that would serve coffee and other beverages

Robinson thinks students will respond to this project positively.

“Students are going to be the ones that will control most of what really happens there,” Robinson said. “ I think we’ll see it morph into something really cool.”

 
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