Rocktown High School construction progressing on schedule

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 9:18 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Back in January 2020, ground was broken on the new Rocktown High School in Harrisonburg. The construction was put on hold for 15 months during the pandemic before resuming last June. Over a year later major progress has been made and the school is on track to open in the fall of 2024.

On Wednesday, WHSV got a look inside the building to check out the progress.

“It’s just remarkable to be able to go through the facility and see what we saw on architectural drawings coming to life,” said Dr. Andy Kohen, a member of the Harrisonburg School Board.

Construction of Rocktown High School is on schedule, many of its walls have been built and the roof is nearly complete.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is the way that we’re creating lots of ways for students to learn within the schools, so lots of teaching and learning modalities. Every space in a school should be for learning,” said Dr. Michael Richards, Superintendent of Harrisonburg City Public Schools.

The school will be state of the art and has a unique design that is very open and spacious.

“It’s very open, much more of a design that creates what I call intentional collisions, and that means that people working on different projects in different areas can come together,” said Richards.

Richards said the focus on intentional collisions will help better prepare students for the real world.

“Students need to learn that in this world that we live in things are interdisciplinary. You don’t go out into the workforce and only do English or only do math and so we need these intentional collisions and this interdisciplinary way of thinking,” he said.

Throughout the three-story building’s corridors, there are a number of collaborative workspaces that differ from traditional classrooms.

“The collaborative workspaces are really cool. We’re not talking about putting young people in a classroom, closing the door, and somebody lecturing to them. There’s a lot of interchange among students and interchange between students and teachers,” said Kohen.

The school’s design will also allow students and faculty to enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley.

“There are so many windows it’s absolutely spectacular. Now we don’t want to have people spending a lot of time looking out the window obviously, but it enhances the general experience. People feel better when they can enjoy nature and they’ll learn better,” said Kohen.

The new school will alleviate overcrowding at Harrisonburg High School and allow students to access facilities at both schools.

“A student who may be in an advanced class in the STEM field at HHS may be able to come over to this high school and do some work in a lab here that may not be available at HHS. But I do want to emphasize that both schools will have comprehensive programs for students,” said Richards.

Rocktown High School does not include a full service auditorium and fine arts students at the school will be able to use the auditorium at HHS when necessary.

Unlike the existing Harrisonburg High School, Rocktown High School is designed in a way that will allow for future expansions of the building if necessary. It is designed for around 1,250 students.