SMITHS STATION -- Jerrell Brown can see the future, and it is impressive.
The new Smiths Station High School is about 90 percent complete with construction of the Lee County, Ala., school expected to be finished by June 12.
“Not bad at all for a little country school,” Brown said, smiling, as he led a tour through and around the 265,000-square-foot facility on Monday.
Brown is the clerk of works for the $32 million project, keeping watch and acting as a liaison between Hoar Construction, architects McKee and Associates and the Lee County School District.
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“This is going to be one heck of a school,” said Brown, 71, who plans to retire after the project’s completion.
The new facility is located at 4228 Lee Road 430 which is approximately two miles from the current high school. The new school will feature more than 80 classrooms each with a large projection screen that drops electronically from the ceiling.
There is a large gym for basketball games that should seat about 1,000 fans and a smaller practice gym that will seat about 300.
There is a drama room with special theater lighting and choral room.
“Look at this band room,” Brown said. “It’s big enough for the band to march in.”
Speaking of big, there is a 33,000-square-foot career tech building with rooms specially equipped for students to learn welding, automotive repair, horticulture and woodworking. An outdoor greenhouse is planned.
“Career tech might be the most important building in the school,” Brown said. “Not everyone will go to college.”
In the main building, there is a group of rooms specially designed to help multi-handicapped students learn life skills. Included is a kitchen and showers.
For school lunch, there is a dining room area that will comfortably seat 522 people.
Being built outside the school is a band practice field, eight tennis courts, a competitive soccer field and practice fields for baseball and softball. Near those is a 24,000-square-foot athletics fieldhouse that features dressing rooms, weight room and coaches’ offices.
Brown said there are plans to have a football stadium constructed on the 108-acre site in the future as well as a track and competitive baseball and softball fields.
One item missing from the new school is an auditorium, but space has been left to add one at a later date. There is also space for more classrooms, if needed in the future.
Brown said there have been no construction problems other than “too much rain.”
“There was a lot do,” he said. “We had to run our own sewer lines.”
Two wells were dug to provide water for field irrigation.
Work began on the location in August, 2009. Students should begin classes in the building in the middle of August, 2011.
“We’ve been excited for some time about this,” Smiths Station High Principal Jason Yohn said. “Every time I go over there something new pops out at me.”
He said one of his favorite parts of the school is the large courtyard that has an art patio.
“We are making this school very student friendly,” Yohn said. “If a student can’t get motivated to study in a place like this, then something is wrong.”
He said how much will be spent to furnish the school is still under discussion.
The new school can hold about 1,500 students, about 100 more than Yohn expects next school term.
Smiths Station High School is currently grades 9-12 but will only be grades 10-12 next school term. A freshman center as well as a separate junior high for grades seven and eight will both be housed in the present Smiths Station High.
Yohn said that because of growth at Fort Benning brought on by Base Realignment and Closure, he isn’t sure just how many students he’ll have.
Yohn said Smiths Station High is going to continue providing a quality education in its new home. He feels the new school is important to the area. The construction, he said, shows that even in a time of financial struggles, “we want the best facilities for our children.”