BOTHELL, Wash. — The state's newest high school is complete and combines high tech, the latest building "green" features and a focus on student collaboration.
North Creek High School in Bothell is the first new high school for the Northshore School District since Woodinville High School was built in 1983.
It will help reduce crowding at the district's other three high school as the district transitions from three-year to four-year high schools in fall 2017.
The $95 million dollar school has three separate buildings and takes advantage of exterior lights, solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling.
The buildings themselves use recycled materials -- recycled rubber floors, recycled paper walls and recycled carpet on the floors. The trees that were removed from the property to build the school have been repurposed into columns in the commons, walls and banisters.
The classrooms don't really have doors, instead they have glass panels that open into the hallways. The design of the school encourages collaboration.
"The open nature of the glass wall means I'm not typically going to have my kids in rows all day long. We want them working on projects together. We want them to collaborate," said Dr. Eric McDowell, principal of North Creek High School.
There are glass "collaboration cubes" where students can work in groups.
Assistant Principal Joseph Robertson took a trip to Finland where they have schools with a similar open design. He talked to teachers about how they use the open spaces and adjust to the glass walls. "I asked them, 'Are students distracted by having the glass walls?' They said 'no, as long as what's happening in the classroom is engaging’. They do a lot of things to make sure students are engaged, group work and project-based learning."
These administrators are counting on teachers to find creative ways to use the space and to limit the traditional lectures.
The two-story library will use the honor system and have books lining shelves in the hallway.
Student safety was considered in all aspects of the design. The school is three separate buildings; if there was an emergency in one building, the other two buildings could evacuate or lock down.
The principal can lock down the school from his cellphone.
The glass panels on the classrooms close and lock and there's a screen that can drop to the floor in four seconds to create a visual barrier to protect students.
The glass used in the school is coated with laminate that the district says helps make it more resistant to bullets.
There are few exterior doors and most of them don't have handles allowing access back inside.
The school opens to students in Fall 2017 and is finished about 6 months ahead of schedule, and is on budget.
Deputy Superintendent Carolyn O'Keeffe was closely involved with the design of the building. "Think about the sustainability qualities of a school and how we should be thinking about the 21st century and having solar panels, geo-thermal, rain gardens, utilizing the natural environment we're in," described O'Keeffe.
The school was paid for through the levy passed in 2014. It will draw most of its students from Bothell High School and some from Woodinville High School.
"Not only did we build a school which we needed for growth, we built an innovative world class school," said Amy Cast, Northshore School Board President.
The gym has the school's jaguar logo painted on the floor. There four- 14 foot LED screens that will be used for scoreboards.
When asked if students will like the school, Robertson answered, "I think they're going to love it."
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