The ceiling remains open, exposing the ductwork and giving the room a mechanical feel.
Two new makerspaces – communal rooms with tools – at South Pointe High School are designed to inspire creativity and teamwork for the school’s STEAM program. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics is one of the Rock Hill school district’s school choice programs.
In the two rooms students will work together to design, make prototypes and manufacture projects they wouldn’t be able to otherwise, according to the district website. Equipment such as robotics and 3D printing will provide new ways of learning, said Mychal Frost, director of communications for Rock Hill schools.
“Part of the STEAM approach is applying different disciplines into one task,” he said. “We’re preparing kids for jobs that don’t yet exist, so spaces like this will certainly help.”
Both rooms, which will be ready soon, feature a polished floor, cabinets for storage, sinks and an open ceiling.
“It gives you that industrial look,” Frost said.
Flexible furniture and moveable glass walls make the spaces customizable to the need, said Anthony Thomas, assistant principal for sophomores and juniors.
“The 21st century learner is about having a space where it’s not a typical classroom,” he said.
Frost said the district’s STEAM schools – Oakdale Elementary School, Saluda Trail Middle School and South Pointe High School – give students the chance to dedicate their K-12 education to that area of study. Each of those schools will have a makerspace, according to the district.
The makerspaces are just one of many improvements across Rock Hill schools thanks to a $110 million bond referendum citizens approved on May 5, 2015, Frost said.
The bond, which did not include a tax increase, will pay for safety and energy upgrades, structural updates, buses, technology, remodeling existing buildings and a new elementary school, if growth dictates, among other projects.
Many of those items are either already complete or are in progress, Frost said. He said it’s unusual for school bonds to touch all areas of the district, but the Rock Hill bond includes a component for repair, replacement and renovation.
“It allows us to attack every single campus,” Frost said. “It gives everybody some buy in.”
High School Improvements
Driving past Northwestern High School, cranes and construction crews can be seen hard at work. Brickwork is being replaced on the outside of two buildings at Northwestern and Rock Hill high schools, Frost said.
Over time, water has leaked behind the brick facing at both schools and has caused brick anchors to rust, he said. The district is preemptively replacing the material, along with the buildings’ windows, to minimize safety risks. Work is expected to be done in August 2017.
“From the exterior, they will be brand new buildings when complete,” Frost said.
Athletic facilities are also seeing an upgrade. Rock Hill High School’s weight room is being extended to better meet the needs of the more than 500 student-athletes, Frost said. An updated athletic training room will have a dedicated ice bath area, an office space and a larger capacity. The rooms are expected to be ready this month.
A converted overflow space gives the South Pointe wrestling team a place to practice similar to ones at Northwestern and Rock Hill, Frost said. It’s one of several improvements aimed at equalizing the district’s programs.
“Their wrestling team did not have a dedicated space,” he said. “It addresses that equitable issue as best we can.”
Classes continue during construction, Frost said.
Middle School Improvements
A new language-immersion school at Sullivan Middle School will combine the district’s Spanish and French language immersion school choice programs onto a single campus and allow students to continue their language study in middle school, according to the district’s website.
Construction on the $18 million facility is expected to start this March and be completed in July 2018.
Elementary School Improvements
Colorful chairs line brand new, light-colored wooden tables in Independence Elementary School’s newly renovated media center. New shelving, painting and flooring brightens the room. Moveable furniture means more flexibility, Frost said. Similar upgrades took place at the district’s other elementary schools.
India Hook Elementary gained a new turf field for the playground along with ground improvements, Frost said. A new front office and entrance and a renovated health clinic area are among the improvements planned for Ebinport Elementary School expected to be completed in August 2017, according to the district’s website.
For a complete list of construction projects, visit www.rock-hill.k12.sc.us/BuildOnTheRock.
School Choice Programs
Families that want their child to attend a Rock Hill school district choice program must complete an online application at bit.ly/iChooseRHSD.
The application period will close Feb. 17 and parents will be informed of acceptance in early March.