Apr 23 2017

New High School Facilities in Planning Stage

Groups work to inform District of issues and concerns –

    On Tuesday night, April 18th, I attended the New High School Facilities Meeting in the Student Center. The topic was on the three possible new ways the high school is going to be remodeled in the near future. Every two weeks these meetings occurred; this meeting being the last of the three, but more will come later this month.

    Three options were displayed and described in a short video and then questions were welcomed. I stood and asked why in Option 3 the “PHS Offices” and “Millennium H.S.” were simply being swapped since it didn’t seem logical to me at the time. I got a response from the coordinator of the meeting, that the plan would allow the front offices of the high school to monitor closely who comes in and out of the campus. Today any stranger could walk onto our campus during school hours and no one might notice. After she addressed my question, it made much more sense to me.

    The issues of the overall remodeling of the campus were brought up and seemed extremely realistic, unfortunately. The first issue is a lack of real estate; in other words, there is not much other space than the campus we have to build in. The second issue is the campus being in a hard location with hills and streets to build on and the third issue is that while the school is being remodeled, there seems to be a lack of interim space for classrooms, offices, bathrooms, etc.

    Next on the agenda was group discussions. My group went around the table and each person, including myself, gave their likes and dislikes for each of the three plans. In my opinion, Option 2 is the best plan since it gives students a new STEAM building and also relocates and remodels the theater. Although the most important aspect of it was that unlike options 1 and 3, Option 2 does not intrude on the view students have from the quad, something that everyone at the school can appreciate. Option 1 had a large, 3 story STEAM building and seemed to promote traffic jams during all of the passing periods since a majority of the school’s students would be in one building. Option 3 didn’t appeal to me because it did not show any remodel or renovations to the theater, something that in my opinion should be a priority.

    After the groups discussed their thoughts, a final round of “Aha moments” and further questions began. I spoke out and responded to someone’s comment that even though the STEAM building in Option 3 takes away the view, students can still enjoy it from inside the building. My response was that, similar to Option 1, Option 3 would generate lots of traffic flow of students and teachers especially during lunch and also that realistically, unless its raining, most students at the high school and Millennium enjoy having lunch outside.

    After the meeting ended, I interviewed a former School Board member, Sue Smegal. She said that since she has four grandchildren in the Piedmont schools, it’s her responsibility to make sure the meetings offer good insight and eventually the right school overall. “We can’t lose the feel of the campus. When I walk on it [the campus] I feel happy, we can’t lose that,” she said. As for the future, she plans to go to the upcoming meetings and will always try her best to give her opinions and have her voice heard.

by Sam Watters, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions are those of the author.


Town Hall meeting produces new ideas for developing the high school.

    On April 1, there was a Piedmont School District Community Town Hall meeting to discuss the new high school facilities in the Piedmont High School Student Center. The purpose of this meeting was to get feedback on the three proposed options for the new high school facilities under Bond Measure H1. (Further discussions were held on April 6 and April 18.) 

     As the community was seated around tables, the meeting began with Superintendent Randy Booker and two facilitators Gina Bartlett and Julia Golomb introducing the school plans, including the budget and funding. A video was shown (one can find it on measureh1.org) and the key facts about each option were given with handouts showing each design outline, cost, classrooms, etc.

     Next, each table group split up and discussed each option. Beginning with option one, each person went around and said what they liked about it. Then each person spoke again, saying their concerns about the option being discussed. A scribe wrote down a “pros and cons” list on a large poster as the discussion continued and ideas were shared. This was repeated for each option.

     Once the groups completed discussing each option, they agreed on main objectives for the new high school facilities and what we wanted Piedmont High School’s “identity” to be. Next, a speaker from each group said their main insights as a group and what their main priorities for the school were.

     For option one, the main ideas that people were excited about was the new theater, but the group did not like having the new STEAM building so far away from the other classrooms.

     Option two has a new theater as well as a new STEAM building and an entrance and center point in the school.

     In option three, most people seemed to like the placement of the STEAM building, however, the Gym being in the middle of the school brought concerns about giving off the wrong idea of the school, isolating MHS more, and also having PE students running around the school to get down to the field.

    I thought that the theater was a main priority for the school and also a clear entrance and center point were the main objectives for the new facilities making me rule out the third option because it didn’t update the theater. Of course, there are many more positives and negatives about each option and other tradeoffs.

     Then, each group split off again and discussed new ideas and wrote them down on a poster. Some of these new ideas consisted of making the STEAM building two stories instead of three and moving the offices to the forties building. Other ideas were filling in the amphitheater and creating a place to eat or garden, using the space better. Simple ideas like just adding picnic tables or making the quad the center point of the school were also shared. Finally, each group expressed their new ideas and the meeting was wrapped up.

A variety of people showed up including Brad Hebert, who is on Randy Booker’s committee. Brad thought the meeting went very well, and “validated the committee’s hard work.” He is excited for the next steps the committee will take as they revise designs and work with architects to make their vision come to light. This meeting was exciting for PHS’s future and extremely informative. Community members walked away with new ideas and opinions.

By Addie Christensen, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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