• 64°

WSN to open January

A construction worker walks to enter the new WSN facility.

A construction worker walks to enter the new WSN facility.

Come January, W.S. Neal High School students and faculty will start the second semester in the new facility, Escambia County Schools Superintendent John Knott said.

Despite already missing three deadlines, workers are working diligently, and Knott is optimistic the school will be ready to open its doors as planned.

“Right now our plans and goal is to be in the new school beginning second semester,” Knott said. “That’s the goal. But my objective is to make sure that we get a quality job done that’s going to be ready for us to move in. If that means I have to delay it again at some point, which I don’t want to do, then that’s the side I’ll always side on. I want a good job done. I’ve been assured that we will be ready, so I’m looking forward to it.”

The new school will have a lunchroom, which houses a performance stage, that will serve for multipurpose. “We want to get as much use out of our facilities as we can,’ Knott said. “I love the design and think it will be a real benefit. We can do banquets, programs and events in here. It’s a great way to meet all those needs.”

The lunchroom will be used for multiple functions like banquets and events.

The lunchroom will be used for multiple functions like banquets and events.

Knott believes that if there is anything else that sets the school apart from others it will be its special needs facilities. “About  $70,000 worth of equipment will be used for the school’s special needs’ rooms,” Knott said. “There will be a sensory perception room designed to meet the needs of special students who have sensory perception problems where sensory components is the type of intervention that will help them improve and succeed. Everything will be designed specifically. Next door will be a classroom, full kitchen area, full handicap bathroom and washer and dryer because we want to teach functional skills and life skills to these students to be self sufficient. I’m very passionate about making sure we do all we can to take care of the needs of those who need special care. I think this will provide an opportunity we have never had before.”

The building has one hall designated as the safe hall that can serve as a safe haven during dangerous weather.  “There is twelve inch reinforced concrete block walls that go down both hallways,” Knott said. “The doors on the hall are FEMA approved. We have a two door system. The inside door is solid metal. Out of concern for students, the door will be mounted  and kept in an open position unless we have drills or there is a need such as a weather lockdown. The outside door will be our regular, everyday door. We will be the only school in Escambia County Ala., that meets all of the new federal and state guidelines for a FEMA rated hurricane shelter.”

As far as camera surveillance goes, Knott says cameras will be stationed throughout the building and grounds. “Every classroom will have camera systems in them,” Knott said.”Every area will be able to be under surveillance and that’s a great thing,” Knott said.

This will be the site of a new courtyard for students and will be located behind the building.

This will be the site of a new courtyard for students and will be located behind the building.

Over 100 students participate in band activities. The new band room will be state-of-the-art and be able to hold the band’s big numbers.  “The ceiling is 18 feet high,” Knott said. “There will be a big screen television to be used to replay videos of performances and Smartboard technology will be installed as well. There are rooms built all over that are either practice rooms or for flag core stuff or majorette uniforms, etc. The band will have all they need, even a washer and dryer.”

Parking will be available on the south end front, faculty will be able to park on the side, and once Phase two demolition finishes, more room will be available as well. “We’ll still utilize the front parking lot in front of the current school,” Knott said. “We know our parking availability will double from what we than have had in the past. And that’s a good thing.”

From the school’s HVAC system, to Smartboard technology in every classroom, to the upgraded media center, to wireless network capabilities throughout the building, the East Brewton community has a lot to look forward to in it’s new school.

Knott said that although the move will be an exciting step, it wouldn’t be an easy transition.

“If we do make our deadline and Phase two starts with the demolition we know there is still going to be some inconveniences and some things to work around. We are already preparing for that. It won’t be perfect but hopefully by the time we get to the beginning of next school year we hope to have Phase two taking care of.”