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Highland Schools field house nears completion

Monday, March 26, 2012

(Photo)
The Rebel Field House project at Highland High School nears completion. By the middle of April, the new 8,000 square foot facility will be ready for athletes from the school. Below is the locker room area of the complex that is currently being used, while contractors complete the building. Photo/Tammy Curtis [Order this photo]
Highland High School has completed a huge expansion, and has exciting changes coming with the start of a new technology school in the fall.

But, these expansions may not be visible from the highway. According to Dennis Sublett, Highland Director of Support Services, the architecture of the new field house is designed to flow with the current design of the buildings that surround it, and essentially appear as if it had always been in place.

With completion of the new 8,000 square foot field house set for mid-April, workers are putting finishing touches to the facility. Demolition and remodeling of the existing locker room began last summer, but actual construction on the building began in November.

The project was a result of funding from a grant, Sublett explained. The building is designed with an industrial look inside. Tate Construction of Jonesboro was the contractor for the dirt and concrete work, and construction of the steel building. Other portions of the field house, which could not be completed in-house -- including the block, windows, doors and fire alarm system, duct work and HVAC units -- were sub-contracted out.

The entrance of the facility provides a corridor which will house trophies and awards from Highland teams -- an area where the public can view mementos of the history of the athletic program at Highland.

The boys began using the dressing area of the new field house during the summer, after it was tied into the existing dressing rooms and completely remodeled and expanded.

The building is also tied into existing classrooms upstairs, preventing students from having to exit the building to go to classes.

The new Rebel Field House also contains a large exercise and weight room, coaches office, a mechanical room, therapy room, as well as lots of much needed storage space.

Currently, workers are installing duct work for a state of the art air conditioning system, which will wick moisture out of the field house.

"The locker room area, which is part of the existing building, never had air conditioners. In the past, moisture had always been a problem," Sublett said.

Sublett explained the district was able to save a significant amount of money by utilizing staff labor during the construction process. With one plumber, several employees who have construction and HVAC knowledge, the school has realized a lot of labor savings. The school also utilized community service workers who are working off fines from the Sharp County Sheriff's Department throughout the construction process.

"The boys are proud of it. The coaches are proud of it. They are currently using the dressing room portion," Sublett said.

The school will also become a new tech school during the 2012-2013 school year. Sublett said minor remodeling will be needed to incorporate the new technology. The Highland School District will become one of the first schools in the state to participate in a pilot project-based learning system in the 2012-2013 school year.

Highland applied to participate in the program that emphasizes STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- education, as the Department of Education expands to include 15 school districts and one technical center in the 2012-13 school year.

The STEM Works program, announced by Gov. Mike Beebe in August, seeks to educate more students in fields that have the greatest need for qualified workers, and have the greatest potential to enhance the state's economy. The program will focus less on a lecture based classroom type of learning to project based learning, utilizing technology with which many students are already familiar.



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