The renovation of their school is providing teachable moments for high school architecture students.
Last month, about 30 architecture students from Highlands High School were allowed inside for a firsthand look at the future of the school.
Al Gamillo, the first-year director of the architecture program at Highlands, said the tour, led by Joeris General Contractors, was also potentially a look at a future career path for each of his students.
“To have these kids see something built from the ground up, it’s invaluable,” Gamillo said. “I don’t think they know how lucky they are.”
Students in Gamillo’s classes design projects ranging in difficulty from furniture to dream homes. The courses total about 70 kids, all of which will leave the program with strong experience in computer-aided drafting and other 3D-modeling systems. Gamillo said that his senior and junior students even had some minor input on the layout of the school’s new library.
“In architecture, you don’t get any slackers,” Gamillo noted. “These are kids who have to be astute not only in math and science, but art and history as well.”
Dale Nieder, a Joeris representative who walked the kids through the base of demolished buildings near the old South Wing, used
the opportunity to teach the students about foundational structure. Nieder explained that his crews are largely ahead of schedule, despite facing unexpected conditions, such as sudden cold fronts, rain, sleet and even finding a second foundation under one of the buildings that required additional time to examine.
The Highlands upgrades are the biggest of 22 planned SAISD projects under a $515 million bond program dating back to 2010. Work on Highlands is scheduled to finish in 2016 and will be the last of these projects to wrap up. The high school is getting a new, two-story fine arts building and a three-story structure housing career and technology classrooms, a media center, library, science lab an
d cafeteria. The campus auditorium will also receive several upgrades.
Fernando Sierra and Amerigo Ayala, both 17-year old juniors, said it was strange to see their school undergoing drastic changes, but stranger to actually be in the middle of construction.
“I just feel weird,” said Ayala, who plays soccer for Highlands and wants to attend West Virginia University to either study engineering or a science. “This (construction) is going to make our school a lot bigger. We’re going from 4A to 5A, but just to think … so many people (who used to be) in these buildings.”
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