Innovation Center construction work continues

Administrators make plans for instruction in new facility


Zoey Johnston

Construction continues on the new Innovation Center, which is scheduled to open in the fall.

Zoey Johnston, Reporter

Construction on the new Innovation Center continues as scheduled, with opening set for next fall. 

Planning such a big project like this comes with many steps and hurdles, including creating designs, findung cost estimates and raising funds. Mr. Rolly Landeros, chief operating officer, said, “The idea started in 2016, the design started in 2017, we did a feasibility study in 2018, then we started the campaign in 2019 and then we went to bid on the project once we had the money.” 

At first, the plan was to build onto the Shiel Student Life Center. However, due to the cost, the new facility was moved to go in front of the religion hallway. That change reduced the cost of the facility from $25 million to about $13 million.

In total, the new spaces will be able to hold eight classes for STEM courses. There will be a physics lab, an engineering lab, a biology lab and a chemistry lab. Each lab will be able to hold up to two classes of students, wit teachers having their own space for their classes.

Landeros said, “We wanted to build STEM specific classrooms, we wanted to make a primary focus on improving our STEM education, and in doing so we needed to have classrooms built to improve the curriculum.”

Dr. Aarti Brooks, the school’s STEM director and an AP Biology teacher, said, “Our goal is to provide more interdisciplinary teaching and learning for the students to have them engage in more real world applications through a more problem based learning.”

She said she has lots of hope for the lab spaces being added. This semester, there are nine chemistry sections trying to fit into two labs. With more spaces, it will be easier for teachers to use a more hands-on focus with learning. Also, with the extra space, teachers will have access to more resources than are available now. 

At the moment, there are no plans to add new courses or hire new staff with the extra space, but there is some discussion regarding those issues. There may be new STEM courses offered to expand if the number of students calls for it, but that’s yet to be decided, according to Brooks.

Construction should be done sometime in September. When work is complete, getting certain permits and inspections for safety will have to be done, but after that, the space will be used as soon as possible. Until then, a virtual tour has been released to showcase the new addition.