Classes in new Farmington High be­gin Wed­nes­day

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - LYNN KUTTER

FARMINGTON — A ground­break­ing cer­e­mony for a new $13 mil­lion Farmington High School was held April 8, 2016, and now, less than 18 months later, the school is ready to hold an open house for the com­mu­nity, stu­dents and par­ents to come in and see the new build­ing.

The open house will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Mon­day. Stu­dents will ar­rive for the first day of class Wed­nes­day.

Jeff Ox­ford, pres­i­dent of Farmington School Board, grad­u­ated from Farmington High School in 1986 with a grad­u­at­ing class of 54 se­niors.

With the growth in North­west Arkansas and the growth in the Farmington School District, it was ob­vi­ous long ago, Ox­ford said, that Farmington would need a new high school.

The class of 2017 grad­u­ated 170 stu­dents.

Ox­ford’s one re­gret, he said, is that none of his chil­dren will be able to at­tend the new school. His youngest child grad­u­ated in May.

But he’s look­ing for­ward to the op­por­tu­ni­ties to­day’s stu­dents will have.

A SHOW PLACE

“I think that school is a show­place,” Ox­ford said. “I’m ex­cited for the op­por­tu­ni­ties kids are go­ing to have in that high school. I think the kids of the com­mu­nity will reap re­wards from that school for years to come.”

Ox­ford said the school does not ap­pear as a large struc­ture on the out­side. Looks are de­ceiv­ing, he said, be­cause the build­ing is spa­cious on the in­side with wide hall­ways, large class­rooms and fully equipped science labs, a mod­ern me­dia cen­ter, open agri­cul­ture de­part­ment and a com­mons area. Other rooms house pro­grams for tele­vi­sion/me­dia pro­duc­tion, ro­bot­ics and en­gi­neer­ing and health­care pro­fes­sions.

The new school has about 99,000 square feet.

As he walks through the school, Ox­ford said he re­mem­bers what the home eco­nom­ics class­room looked like in the 1980s.

“I think of Mr. Hummel’s old agri shop. Now we have in­di­vid­ual weld­ing sta­tions. We have a true chem­istry room that is built just for that. Ev­ery­one in Farmington should be proud,” he said.

Clay­ton Williams, as­sis­tant high school prin­ci­pal and also a Farmington High School grad­u­ate, is ready to get started.

He re­cently gave a tour of the build­ing to a group of re­tired Farmington teach­ers and they were im­pressed, he said.

The one re­cur­ring com­ment by the re­tired teach­ers, he said, was that the school will be “a bless­ing to the com­mu­nity and such an op­por­tu­nity for our stu­dents.”

Peo­ple who have lived in the com­mu­nity see a new high school as one of those land­mark events, Williams said, “a wa­ter­shed event.”

Williams’ hope is stu­dents will also re­al­ize the im­por­tance of a new high school and will take own­er­ship. His one con­cern is that fu­ture stu­dents mov­ing up to the new school may take the new fa­cil­ity for granted.

“We want to em­pha­size that the fa­cil­i­ties are great, but the mag­i­cal thing is what hap­pens when stu­dents and teach­ers all put this to good use,” Williams said. “We want them to have ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties, ex­pe­ri­ences to learn and hope­fully have a lit­tle bit of fun.”

AR­EAS OF ‘POP’

Su­per­in­ten­dent Bryan Law wanted ar­eas of the school to “pop” or stand out to stu­dents, teach­ers and vis­i­tors.

These ar­eas will be ob­vi­ous as peo­ple walk into the new build­ing. Vis­i­tors will come into a wide, brick hall­way that opens up into an area school of­fi­cials are de­scrib­ing as the main hub.

From the hub, stu­dents can go into the me­dia cen­ter, com­mons area, ac­cess the grand stair­case to the sec­ond floor or go to classes on two at­tached wings.

The me­dia cen­ter is set up to ac­com­mo­date stu­dents us­ing lap­top com­put­ers in a ca­sual, mod­ern set­ting. The com­mons area, which is about 1½ times larger than the lunch room in the old high school, is dec­o­rated with a Farmington Car­di­nals theme, that in­cludes art­work on the table­tops.

Prin­ci­pal Jon Pu­ri­foy de­scribes the build­ing as an “un­be­liev­able” place to have school.

“It’s an invit­ing at­mos­phere, an ex­cit­ing at­mos­phere be­cause of all the new stuff,” Pu­ri­foy said. “All this is great, I un­der­stand that, but it also im­proves test scores. If you’re happy and in a place you feel safe, you have great con­fi­dence. It’s a mat­ter of pride.”

CA­REER ACADEMY MODEL

While the school is known by its com­mon name Farmington High School, the Arkansas De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion now refers to it as Farmington Ca­reer Acad­e­mies. The new school will serve 10th through 12th grade, about 550 stu­dents. Each grade will have its own wing with a fourth wing set aside for science classes and labs.

Williams said the school will kick off its ca­reer acad­e­mies model this year and stu­dents will be as­signed to a spe­cific academy based on their in­ter­ests.

The goal is to still go slow in im­ple­ment­ing the ca­reer academy model as stu­dents and staff ad­just to the new build­ing, Williams added.

Farmington will have three acad­e­mies:

Prime: Agri­cul­ture, pre-en­gi­neer­ing, STEM (science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, math) re­lated ca­reers, com­puter science, EAST.

Shield: Con­sumer science, ed­u­ca­tion, child­care, ser­vice in­dus­try, med­i­cal.

Ace: Busi­ness, fine arts, ac­count­ing, mar­ket­ing, broad­cast­ing.

One fea­ture of the Ca­reer Academy model will be com­mu­nity ser­vice, Williams said. Each academy will com­plete a com­mu­nity ser­vice project this year.

PLANS FOR OLD HIGH SCHOOL

As the new school opens, the old build­ing will con­tinue to be used in a va­ri­ety of ways.

Farmington’s ninth-graders will re­main at the old school with the Fresh­man Academy. The academy will move into the new­est sec­tion of the old high school build­ing.

Bob Echols is Fresh­man Academy prin­ci­pal and Lisa Williams is of­fice man­ager. The front of­fices in the build­ing also will house ad­min­is­tra­tive staff for the school’s nu­tri­tion de­part­ment.

Williams said some stu­dents and teach­ers will have to travel back and forth be­tween the Fresh­man Academy and new high school for some classes.

The high school’s Al­ter­na­tive Learn­ing Ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter will be housed in the for­mer main­te­nance build­ing, lo­cated on the old high school cam­pus.

Other parts of the old high school will be used by North­west Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute and North­west Arkansas Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

North­west Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute will of­fer four cour­ses in what used to be the se­nior hall at the old high school. These cour­ses will be avail­able for stu­dents in west­ern Washington County. Cour­ses be­ing of­fered are law en­force­ment, med­i­cal pro­fes­sions, com­puter en­gi­neer­ing and den­tal as­sis­tant.

The com­mu­nity col­lege will con­tinue to serve as a satel­lite lo­ca­tion and of­fer core classes in the J build­ing at the old high school.

Williams said fu­ture projects at the old high school will in­clude de­mol­ish­ing the south wing or old­est sec­tion of the build­ing and tear­ing down the old gym. This de­mo­li­tion is part of an agree­ment be­tween the school district and the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to re­ceive state monies for the new high school build­ing.

The school is hop­ing to re­ceive a grant to build a storm shel­ter to re­place the old gym.

Down the road, one of the district’s goals is to pos­si­bly turn the old high school into a cam­pus for eighth- and ninth-graders to re­lieve some of the pres­sure at the mid­dle school.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/LYNN KUTTER

Sev­eral Farmington High School teach­ers moved into their new class­rooms last week. Jen­nifer Fu­son teaches AP Lit­er­a­ture and Com­po­si­tion, pre-AP 11th grade English and 11th grade reg­u­lar English.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/LYNN KUTTER

Be­lyn Rodgers, who teaches oral com­mu­ni­ca­tions and AP Lan­guage and Com­po­si­tion, moves in boxes of books to her new class­room at Farmington High School.

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