Rocktown High Nearly Ready For Fall Semester Opening

By ASHLYN CAMPBELL Daily News-Record

Jan 18, 2024

Standing in the wide-open common area of the new Rocktown High School, it was almost easy to imagine students walking through the halls or sitting down to eat lunch.

Without the occasional worker carrying a ladder or the lack of furniture, it would be hard to tell it wasn’t a fully functional school. Still, Rocktown High School has just a few more finishing touches before it opens to its roughly 950 students this fall.

With flexible learning spaces, natural light and Valley views, Tamara Mines, the principal for Rocktown High, said the building that will house the Rocktown Rapters is a “game-changer.”

For Mines, the best part of the building isn’t a specific room or hallway — it’s the potential for new and exciting learning opportunities for students.

“I love how we have the opportunity to change how we have instructional delivery,” Mines said. “The whole school is my favorite, but the idea of encouraging collaborative teaching and learning opportunities as we begin to move toward an interdisciplinary model [is great.]”

Through the hallways, all classrooms are called “learning labs,” Mines said, not limiting the experiences and skills students bring into a space. Dark grey parts of the floor notate areas to walk through, while the lighter brown sections note where students, teachers and classes can work with other classes or break out into groups with flexible furniture.

Within the rooms, each classroom will have an interactive device, and many have whiteboard surfaces like cabinets. Some learning labs come with sensory or “calming” rooms to help provide resources for students who need them.

A running theme for the school is flexible and unique spaces that give students room to spread out and explore collaboration, Mines said.

Everywhere from the commons, the main staircase to the library and classrooms have some potential capacity to sit for students studying or lounging, enjoying the great view of the mountain.

The new school hasn’t come without questions — Will glass walls create distractions for students? What will be the learning curve for navigating the new school and new ways of approaching instruction?

Each provides a new learning experience, Mines said. Glass walls may create a distraction but will allow students to learn how to get back on task after being distracted. Everyone will have to learn how to navigate the school and the new ways to collaborate, but there are transition plans for students and professional learning experiences for teachers, Mines explained.

The new school also addresses the needs of the community, both inside the school and out.

Custodial and cafeteria staff have locker rooms. A new approach to a health clinic will give the school an opportunity to partner with community resources and provide assistance to families who need it.

New furniture will come in the spring, and Mines said there are still plans for incorporating the logo and branding for the new school. But moving forward, Mines said her hope is Harrisonburg will have two independent high schools that can compete and collaborate with one another.

Contact Ashlyn Campbell at 540-574-6278 or | Follow Ashlyn on Twitter: @A__Campbell

For Full Article at DNROnline Click here: Rocktown High Nearly Ready For Fall Semester Opening

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