Marysville community tours new high school

tudents, parents, school staff, district employees and surrounding community members got a second chance to check out the Marysville-Getchell High School campus Feb. 6, after a previous full day of tours through the facility Jan. 30.

Marysville-Getchell Planning Principal Tracy Suchan Toothaker guided tour groups once an hour from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the nearly-completed International School of Communications building, while Marysville School District Construction Manager Mike Brady did the same through the rest of the facilities on campus.

The ISC building is one of four Small Learning Communities on campus, including Academy of Construction and Engineering, the Bio-Med Academy and the School for the Entrepreneur. All four school buildings have similar structures and are designed for flexible use that can be tailored to the needs of each SLC, as well as changed over time.

Like the other SLC buildings, the ISC building has an indoor commons for dining and group projects. In ISC’s case, it’s separated from a choral music area by a movable wall. Suchan Toothaker noted that the hallway connecting the choral music area to the building’s TV studio doubles as a soundproof booth for both, to help cut down on architectural “dead space.”

Classrooms contain multiple electrical outlets and technical access points throughout the floors, to eliminate the need for extension cords, and Suchan Toothaker noted that furniture for the room will include cut-outs that allow wires to drop straight down into those plug-in points. She added that motion sensors for lighting and heat are designed to lower energy expenses, while several classes will feature built-in movable dividers, with media projectors for each end of the combined rooms, that can play two different programs at once.

Each SLC will come equipped with its own library space, rather forcing a single library to serve the needs of all four SLCs, and due to the sloping terrain of the campus, the second floor of each three-story building will serve as its front entrance. All buildings on campus are designed to take advantage of as much natural light as possible, to cut down on harsh and costly fluorescent lighting, and bleacher seating on the second floor overlooking the indoor commons allows each SLC to conduct its own individual assembles.

Suchan Toothaker touted the hooks for jackets and backpacks in each classroom, to replace large and expensive lockers, and “tech tracks” for the buildings’ fiber-optic and other lines, so that they can be worked on without tearing out walls. She likewise pointed out that interior and exterior stairways for each floor of each building offer multiple escape routes in cases of emergency, fostering safety by lessening bottlenecks.

Outside, Brady explained that each SLC building will be color-coded — blue for ISC, green for ACE, red for the Bio-Med Academy and gold for the School for the Entrepreneur — and roomy enough to house approximately 400 students. According to Brady, the hardy plank exteriors of those buildings “should last 70-100 years.”

Brady elaborated that boulders, tree stumps and slash from construction are being incorporated into walking paths and landscaping, while Snohomish County has employed those trees’ root balls in their wetland restoration efforts. A sound-barrier fence and a row of cypress trees will separate the campus from the residential neighborhood below on the hillside, but pedestrian access to the campus from that neighborhood will be maintained.

The campus’ fifth building is a combined gymnasium and cafeteria, with an indoor running track and areas for wrestling matches, weights and exercise machines, as well as a nurse’s room and the campus security office. While the SLC buildings will serve “grab and go” food, the cafeteria will serve hot meals, and the gym includes seating for 900 in its bleachers and up to 1,000 on its floor.

The campus also includes an outdoor track, tennis courts, baseball fields and a football field. When asked whether the fields would employ grass or turf, Brady expressed his preference for turf, but admitted that he couldn’t say whether it would be used, due to its cost.

“To promote the bond, they should have given us the tour here, and then taken us to the Marysville-Pilchuck campus for a tour,” said Bob Lindenhovius, whose son is a School for the Entrepreneur student. “These are all well thought-out ideas for the future, and as a parent, I’m really proud that we’re moving in the right direction to give our students the right tools for success in the 21st century.”

ISC freshman Sarah Newland appreciated the sneak-peek at the features unique to her building, such as the TV studio and the choral music area, as well as those it shares in common with the other SLCs, such as a third-floor outdoor commons that affords a view of the mountains.

“I loved all of it,” Newland said. “I love how open the windows are, and how many opportunities we’ll have here that we don’t have at Marysville-Pilchuck. It’s so neat and unique.”

Fred Messmer, a former school planner for Everett, likewise praised the planning that he saw in the Marysville-Getchell campus.

“They did an excellent job here,” Messmer said. “They’ve designed it to accommodate changes in the future without being too costly. By breaking the campus up into smaller schools, rather than just all being one larger school, they can shed more natural light into more rooms.”

While Messmer would have preferred a more level site, he noted that school district officials had reported that the Marysville-Getchell campus site was their only option.

Marysville resident John Campbell has attended three tours of the Marysville-Getchell campus, but he continues to express reservations about it. He compared the “experimental” design of the SLC buildings to the open-concept school designs of the 1960s and 1970s, which he cited as having damaged school buildings such as Cascade Elementary.

“I just have the same feeling that we’re in for another expensive experiment,” said Campbell, who disagreed with Messmer’s assessment that separate buildings had not made the construction more expensive.

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