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Community††† |††† Articles of interest to the community.

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published on 05/25/2006

Schematic Design Presentation

By staff writer

Hamilton County School Board, headed by chairman Chip Baker welcomed parents, students, staff, and interested citizens at the informational meeting held Monday, May 20, at Nolan Elementary School.

Mr. Baker welcomed everyone and introduced Mr. Bill Wilkerson of Derthick, Henley, and Wilkerson; the architect firm designing the Signal Mountain Middle/High School. Mr. Wilkerson gave an update on the schematic design of the new school in the form of a power point presentation.

The presentation began showing a draft design that was color-coded of the site. Animated arrows followed the correction for busses, student cars, and passenger assisted cars all of which entered the parking lots in different directions without causing congestion.

Next Mr. Wilkerson pointed out where the future football field would be which was across the street form the school. He then pointed out where future additions, music/theater, fine arts, and academic buildings would be built. The estimated timeframe of construction is ground clearing in June of 2006, with building to begin in January of 2007 and opening date to be August 2008. Several items not included in the price of building are landscaping, auditorium, football stadium, football field house, or natatorium (year round indoor pool).

Guests were treated to a virtual tour of the inside of the building beginning with the middle school entrance passing among other things the band/music departments, small auditorium, cafeteria, first floor of middle school wing, then past counselor offices, the first floor of the high school wing and opposite that the gymnasium. On the second level one can find the media/library and second floor of the two academic wings. If one entered from the high wing, one finds more staff offices, the top level of the high school wing and the main entrance to the gymnasium. Because of the lay of the land, the main entrance to the gymnasium is at the top of the bleachers not at floor level. On the other side of the gymnasium is the middle school gym and locker rooms as well as a weight room.

Dr. Jesse Register along with Mr. Warren Hill, Hamilton County director of high schools talked about the current high school reform plan, which has been in process the past five years. Working with principals, staff, students, and parents each high school has developed a personal plan especially formulated and distinct that school. This is above and beyond the basic core plan which all high schools in Hamilton County are required to follow that also happens to be more stringent that what the state of Tennessee requires, according to Dr. Register.

Because the Signal Mountain school is new, the community has the luxury to design it from scratch the way the community wants. They may choose to use some of the current themes being used in other local high schools such as world interest and leadership, technology, science and health, and math among others. One curriculum being discussed is the International Baccalaureate Degree, which is a curriculum higher than AP (accelerated programs). Currently there is no high school in Hamilton County offering such a curriculum and so it would be according to Dr. Register and County Commissioner Dr. Richard Casavant, also present at the meeting, a real plus for the entire community and county as well.

Members of the audience were given ample time to ask questions and then Lisa Shanders, chairman of the Founders Fund gave an overview of what this group of citizens is doing by raising money to have in place so the school can run right from the beginning. Dr. Register did point out that the school board would be designating an allotted amount of money to the two new schools to go toward needed items not included in the initial costs. Ms Shanders pointed out that the Foundersí Fund is a onetime committee dedicated to getting a jump start on funds and not to confused with the Mountain Education Fund which should still be supported for on-going needs of all the schools on the mountain. Email for the Foundersí Fund is .

Karlette Baker then spoke on behalf of the Friends of Signal Mountain High School, which is sponsoring the Groundbreaking Ceremony, which is to be held June 27 at 5:00 PM at the site, rain or shine. This is a joint effort of the School Board, FOSMHS, and Foundersí Fund to which the entire community is invited.

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