Winging it at NKHS

POULBO — Packing boxes have been emptied and tucked away but the smell of fresh paint and new construction still lingers in North Kitsap High School’s 500 wing.

With teachers working late into the night Feb. 22 and over last weekend, the newly remodeled wing was move-in ready for the students on Monday.

“It’s going well for the teachers there this week,” said Chad Collins, NKHS vice principal. “The kids are finding their new classrooms and we’re hearing good feedback that they like the rooms.”

The 500 wing has eight classrooms, a wing office, a teacher planning area, an occupational therapy and physical therapy room and new staff and student bathrooms. The wing was closed since the beginning of the school year.

A walk-through in the wing reveals a ceiling full of sky lights, using Mother Nature herself to light the corridor. The hypnotizing piano-colored floor tiles have been replaced with bright teal, orange and cream tiles arranged in a hodge-podge design.

“The whole idea on the design of the floor is it doesn’t matter what color the tile is that needs to be replaced,” said NKHS Capital Programs Manager Dennis Burch.

All the rooms have new air filtration, improved lighting with higher efficiency bulbs, new windows, better insulation and improved sound-deadening acoustics. The entire wing has a new roof and plumbing.

Each classroom has a separate heating and ventilation system that will allow teachers to adjust the thermostat two degrees in either direction to better control their individual environment.

“The exterior walls and the structure above are the only things that aren’t new,” Burch said.

In fact what holds true in wing 500 is also the case for the entire 77,000-square-foot remodel project.

Burch said when the remodel is finished all the structures will be enhanced to meet seismic codes and electrical power and data ports will be updated to meet today’s standards.

More importantly the improvements aren’t just about creating pretty spaces, but about creating a better learning environment.

“The goal is to make it a much more collaborative environment for the teachers, to increase flexibility of the classrooms’ use and to make the whole building flexible for change,” Burch said. “Each wing will have an office with a secretary position the students can relate it. It’s envisioned that the students will be able to team within each of the wings.”

Going through a remodel while school is in session has already boosted flexibility and colobration.

Burch and Collins are pleased with the effort of both the staff and students to make what could be a tricky transition a success.

“The communication has been very good,” Burch said. “Ever since last year there’s been discussion about what this would be like. The students and staff here have been very proactive in that. They’re not waiting, but talking about things before they happen.”

Perhaps that’s because some in this year’s graduating class have already been through two remodels during their NKSD academic careers — the remodel of Poulsbo Elementary and Middle School.

Collins said school spirit is at an all-time high.

“This year our school spirit seems to be at its highest level I’ve seen,” Collins said. “It’s pretty cool to see that during a remodel. It’s a tribute to the staff and students.”

High spirits will continue to be in demand, as remodel work is scheduled for the remainder of the school year, throughout the summer and into fall.

The first week of March will be bring the start of the 400 wing remodel and completion of the library, which has a move-in date slated for the first week of April. Once the new library is ready, the old library will be converted into the new administration wing. The final phases, the Commons and science wing 600 will take place over the summer. The entire $15.2 million remodel has a final completion date of January 2009.

Funds for the remodel come from a portion of the capital bond, which also funded Kingston High School and remodeling Poulsbo Elementary and Middle School. The NKHS remodel and Spectrum Community School are the final two projects of the bond.

But in the meantime, with dust flying and hammers swinging, NKHS continues with business as usual.

“It’s exciting that we’re getting a new building and kids are coming and learning at the same time,” Collins said. “We’re all excited for the final product.”

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