State of the Art: The New Cape HS

by Dave on September 3, 2009

from Coastal Sussex Weekly, September 3, 2009

Light. It’s everywhere.

That’s the biggest reaction one gets when touring the new Cape Henlopen High School. Amid all the technical advances, the state-of-the-art geothermal system and the stunning new theater, it’s the amazing amount of natural light that takes you aback.

Of course, one of the biggest concerns in the old building was the lack of such light, and perhaps that’s why it was such a focus in this building.

All of the light emanates from a vast central courtyard in the center of the structure, a beautifully landscaped layout with three “pods” for outdoor instruction.

According to the district, the new Cape Henlopen High School is a 222,000 square foot building with a capacity for 1,600 students. It is constructed on the same 63-acre site as the old high school and will serve ninth through twelfth grade students including our secondary level program for students with autism spectrum disorders. Current projections indicate approximately 1,300 students will be entering the building.

As part of the project, the school district also constructed a 10,000 square foot stadium support facility, upgraded the stadium by adding new bleachers, a press box and a synthetic turf field. Cape Henlopen is one of the first districts in the state to receive a Certificate of Necessity from the State taking into consideration population growth over a ten to twenty year period of time.

“We also wanted the design to facilitate convenient access by the community,” says Janis Hanwell, the administrator in charge of overseeing the project. “The media center and one of the computer tech labs, the theater, the gymnasium, and the Commons area can be used by local organizations while still maintaining the safety and security of the remainder of the building. The wellness center can also be open after school hours with convenient access.”

The building includes state-of-the-art technology with wireless capability throughout the building. There is a central media hub system that allows access to centralized instructional software, video productions created by our students, public television, and other programming. The system can be controlled to allow for building wide or select classroom use.

Hanwell states that there are many specialized areas throughout the building; including a state of the art media center, digital media lab for art, journalism, newspaper, and yearbook production, a music technology lab, Computer Assisted Drawing lab, shared lab for drafting and agricultural science research in the vocational wing of the building, a world language lab, a video production studio, and several business labs.

The gymnasium, while not completed at this point, will seat nearly 2,500, making it the largest of its type in the state. And the theater will seat 900, and may not succeed in being called the “Little” Theater, as was its counterpart in the old building.
Teachers have moved into the building and are busy preparing for the first student day on Tuesday. When the students do arrive, what they’ll find — the computer labs, the theater, the vast open space, the attention to detail and variety of options — will be like nothing they’ve ever experienced before.

As the old building gets demolished over the next few weeks, and a new year begins in a brand new building, a page is turned in the great history of one coastal town.

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