After two years of construction, the new Auburn High School opened its doors to the community for a public viewing.
The construction team, Rabren General Contractors and TCU Consulting, broke ground at the new location in the fall of 2015 after many city council meetings debating how the new school would be funded. According to Daniel Chesser, public relations specialist for Auburn City Schools Board of Education, the community voted in favor of using the special "five-mil fund."
This fund is set aside for city-wide building projects. Parks and recreation construction plans were put on hold for the building of the new high school. Previous attempts to gain funding for the new campus included raising property taxes, which was not a favorable choice for the public, Chesser said.
Construction costs amounted to $63 million and an overall project price tag of $72.6 million. This sum will be paid off by the city over the next 30 years. The campus includes three wings connected by breezeways, the fine arts, athletics and academics departments.
"We wouldn't really be able to do this without the city of Auburn's support and a lot of that money is sales tax from the city so when things are going well good for the economy in Auburn, we are able to do projects like you see at the high school," Chesser said.
The property is 101 acres of land. Chesser said the campus is utilizing 65 acres of the available land. He said a natural buffer for forests and land is important for a campus of Auburn's size.
The high school is 350 thousand square feet -- a million bricks, over 150 miles of wiring and three main buildings. The main academics building is three stories and houses academic classrooms designed for collaboration between students. The classrooms are visible from the hallways as their exterior walls are clear glass.
Chesser said this allows students and teachers to be aware of their surroundings at all times. He mentions there had been some pushback concerning the glass walls, but felt it was a safer and easier way to run a classroom.
Robert Hixon, senior at Auburn High, said the new modern design is forward thinking and the new space is well-equipped for the new classes being added to the curriculum.
There is a new "floating model" that will implement in classrooms, Chesser said.
"Teachers will not be tied to a classroom all day," Chesser said. "They have a teacher workspace. What we are trying to do is maximize the space so there is always class happening in every classroom. This doesn't mean the same teacher will always be teaching."
The old model, Chesser said, leaves rooms empty for expansive amounts of time and this model will prevent the waste of space. He said there are more places around campus for students to relax, study and interact. Tables, chairs, comfortable seating areas and charging ports for phones and computers are scattered around the campus so students enjoy being at school, Chesser said.
Each classroom is equipped with a Smartboard and desks that come together to form large collaboration groups.
Shannon Pignato, Auburn High School principal, has been working with Auburn High School at the old campus for three years.
"Being able to see learning taking place with our glass hallways and classrooms and the collaboration that will hopefully breed among the students and faculty will be great to see in action," Pignato said.
Pignato has been a part of a few building projects but feels that she's never been this involved. She said seeing the school fill up at the open house has brought the formerly empty halls to life.
Maddie Wellbaum, senior at Auburn High, said she loves the new architecture and open space at the new campus. Eventually, Wellbaum hopes to study nutrition in college and feels the new classes being offered at Auburn High will propel her forward as she begins looking into colleges.