Leaders get sneak peek at school’s new look

May 11, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah School Board members and district officials received an advance look at construction at Issaquah High School on May 5.

“This will be an incredible environment for student learning,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen wrote in an e-mail. “The layout facilitates connections, there is an emphasis on green construction, we have flexible spaces to accommodate different instructional needs, science labs are customized for each course, the performing arts facility is going to be state of the art, and the list goes on and on.

“Not only will this building facilitate learning, it’s a school that everyone will be proud to belong to,” he wrote. “I expect that it will be a focal point for the entire community.”

It’s hard to remember the school’s former configuration; the changes have been that drastic. All that really remains familiar to the eye is the stadium and the part of Building A, facing the student parking lot.

In place of the school’s former gymnasium, the new classroom wings are in plain view. But the construction goes deeper than what you see from Second Avenue.

“What you see from the road is about half of what is going on right now,” said district Capital Projects Director Steve Crawford. “If there was a sporting event that took you to the football field and stadium, you could look back to the courtyard between the classrooms and the gym and get a full extent of what has been going on this year.”

Principal Paula Phelps led the tour that took board members and district officials through new classroom wings, sky bridges, gymnasiums and weight facilities, locker rooms, part of the commons, administrative offices, and library and mechanical systems.

Paula Phelps (right), Issaquah High School principal, and Steve Crawford (left), district director of capital projects, lead district school board members and Superintendent Steve Rasmussen on a guided tour of the school's new construction. See video of the tour here. By Greg Farrar

Construction crews are on schedule for the opening of the three, three-story classroom wings that will be the new homes of freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

“We plan to be open and Paula is pushing to plan an open house to start off the school year,” Crawford said. “Currently, we’re in good shape for the start of school.”

But transforming Issaquah High hasn’t been without its challenges, he said.

“We didn’t have as cold and snowy a winter as last year, but there were periods of time when the warmer weather was accompanied by a considerable amount of rain that caused some delays along the line,” he said. “The rain did delay installing the roof on the gym and backed things up enough where there had to be a concerted effort to get back on track.

“Where appropriate we have had the contractor work overtime to help pick up some time in critical areas, like the gym.”

Since crews have been working in rolling phases throughout the school year, there is much that has been done quickly and on time.

For instance, once the foundation was poured for the north classroom wing, they began pouring cement for the second and doing groundwork on the third. While that was occurring, workers began erecting steel framing for the north class wing.

What is still being worked on is installing carpets and vinyl in the classroom wings and the administration areas. The science labs are in, but work is being finished in those to install ceiling grids, cabinetry and rubber flooring.

This summer, they will work on exterior sidewalks near the three classroom wings, and the rain gardens and courtyards between them.

What won’t be ready for the start of school are the performing arts center, including a black box theater, music rooms and woodshop areas. Those are scheduled for completion during the second phase of construction next year.

“The contractor is doing a good job managing the schedule and the subcontractors to get the work completed,” Crawford said. “There has been a lot that has been completed over the course of the year because of that.”

The group also toured Creekside Elementary School and were scheduled to take a tour of Skyline High School, but ran out of time. That tour will be rescheduled.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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