Rocktown High School construction on track for December completion

By Colby Johnson

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Progress has continued to move forward on the new Rocktown High School in Harrisonburg. Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) will officially take control of the building at the end of the year and construction is on track to be completed by December.

The school already has its principal in place and cabinets, stairs, and kitchenware have been installed. It remains on schedule to open to students for the first time next August.

“We’re at the stage now where in some sections it’s a final coat of paint. A lot of the academic sections are almost complete so they’ll be cleaned and be locked up until we take possession,” said Craig Mackail, Rocktown Construction Supervisor for HCPS.

Crews with Nielsen Construction continue to work hard on both the interior and exterior of the school.

“The gym floors are going in, the wood floors are going in. One of the big things in construction is putting ceiling tile in so it doesn’t seem like a big deal but that takes a long time and then the HVAC units have been installed so they’re adjusting those and getting those up and running,” said Mackail.

Many of Rocktown’s classrooms are already complete aside from the furniture. The school is designed to give students a lot of places to study and to work in.

“There’s collaborative spaces outside the classrooms. They’re really just big hallways with collaborative spaces that have been designed to work in, so for small groups or small teacher groups or meetings. So really every inch of this building is used for something educationally,” said Mackail.

Much of the outdoor work on the school’s grounds is complete including its athletic fields and the school’s parking lot will be paved in the coming weeks. Once construction wraps up HCPS will have a lot to do to prepare for Rocktown’s opening.

“It’s going to be hiring staff for the building, it’s going to be planning curriculum, and those things have already started. It’s going to be getting used to the building, making sure everything is working, it will probably take a couple months to get all the furniture,” said Mackail.

Craig Mackail was the longtime Chief Operating Officer for HCPS before retiring last year. He said he is very excited to see the new school be completed.

“I started working on this project, if you can believe it, 13 years ago so it’s nice that I get a chance to finish it even though I’m retired. I think the major benefit from opening the school, one our kids need this space but to alleviate the overcrowding at the current high school,” he said. “I think it’s going to benefit all the kids in Harrisonburg because there will be kids coming from the current high school over here too. So I think everybody is going to get to utilize it and get the benefit of it.”

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