The hallways at Forsyth Central High School were barely empty when work began to create the schools STEM Academy and make additional campus upgrades.
“We started the day the kids got out,” said Walt Fairchild, construction coordinator. “They ended early at 12 p.m. and we started at 1 p.m.”
STEM — short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — will focus on combining rigorous core classes with career-technical course offerings to give students real-world experience.
“As shown by the U.S. Labor Department’s most recent 10-year employment projections, of the 20 fastest-growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation to successfully compete for a job,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, school system spokeswoman.
“The program also enhances the partnership with the chamber and local businesses, such as apprenticeship opportunities with local industries.”
In addition, she said it works with universities and technical colleges to offer joint enrollment opportunities, and encourage “mentorships leveraging industry and post-secondary researchers, practitioners, expert and leaders.”
When the construction is complete, the school will offer engineering and biotechnology programs and co-curricular events such as a science fair, Olympiad, robotics and rocketry.
The school’s 800 building is being transformed, Fairchild said.
“We’re tearing out counters, walls, opening doors,” he said.
The 800 building will house a new robotics room and engineering space.
In what used to be a custodians’ office and equipment room, there will be “a materials processing shop where the engineering students and the robotics students can actually go back and make components,” Fairchild said.
The 800 building is also getting some artistic presence.
Arts classes will merge back together in the 800 building for one central location for graphic and visual arts, photography and standard art classes.
Where the art room used to be in the 600 building, there will be a percussion room, with two new doors leading straight into the existing band room, “so they can move their drums and big pieces of equipment back and forth,” Fairchild said.
“We’re putting a roll-up, garage-type door in the back so when they get ready to go on the road … they can use the new sidewalk that goes down to their van,” he said. “We’re taking care of a lot of needs with this renovation.”
Science rooms in the 500 building will look entirely different.
Previously, teachers had a station with gas, water and power so they could perform experiments while students watched from individual desks.
When the rooms are complete, students will sit at high-top stations and have access to the same sinks, gas and power as their teachers, allowing for a more a hands-on experience.
With flooding an issue in the past, the school will also redirect rainwater to a new storm drain collection system, Fairchild said.
The $985,000 construction, funded from capital projects money, is being handled by Possibility Construction Co.
Fairchild said the project will be completed and ready for inspection July 15.
That will leave plenty of time to move furniture, wax floors and be ready for the new school year, which starts Aug. 11.