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Progress is being made toward completion of the new Sallie B. Howard High School of Biotechnology and Fine Arts expected to open in the fall of 2020.
“Soon, we will be calling for middle school parents and students in the area to come to our parent information session here so that they can learn in more detail in terms of what the new high school will offer in term of biotechnology and the performing arts including music, chorus, dance, theater and visual arts,” said JoAnne Woodard, founder and executive director of Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education. “The whole community, not just Sallie B. Howard parents but all middle school parents in the area, want to learn about the new high school that is coming on and the special curriculum.”
Crews broke ground on the new high school on Nov. 15.
Farrior and Sons Inc. of Farmville is the general contractor for the $5 million facility being constructed behind the Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education adjacent to Wilson Community College. Dunn and Dalton Architects of Kinston designed the building.
According to Charlie Watt, site superintendent on the project for Farrior and Sons, the building size is “24,000 and some change” square feet.
The exterior and interior masonry walls have been erected on the building as well as the roofing structure, which is now awaiting its finish covering.
Workers are currently preparing to install the drop ceiling, ventilation system, electric infrastructure and lighting throughout the building’s spacious dance rooms, fine arts rooms, band rooms, media center, classes and administrative spaces.
Visitors to the site will notice a large gap in the heart of the structure, which will be the site of a future full-size auditorium and stage.
A work order was made to accommodate an expanded science lab.
“The change was to add 3,000 feet of extra science lab in terms of biotechnology lab and physical science lab to accommodate a very robust and rigorous biotechnology track or pre-professional curriculum in biotechnology,” Woodard said. “The fact is that in this eastern North Carolina region, in the Research Triangle region, we are the second largest center for biotechnology jobs.”
According to Woodard, some 237,000 people are employed in that biotechnology center, many in Wilson.
The architects made the change to the plan after consulting with Ellyn Daugherty, author of textbooks on biotechnology.
“She has helped launch 15 or so biotechnology high schools in the region over the last 25 years,” Woodard said. “She is the last word on teaching biotechnology.”
“The biotech labs and the physical science labs were all orchestrated by Ellen Daugherty, and she worked with our architect Russ Woods (of Dunn and Dalton) to make that happen,” Woodard said. “It will be a state-of-the-art facility at industry standard.”
“We are very excited about the opportunity that we will be providing students in the eastern North Carolina region,” Woodard said. “It’s definitely going to be one of a kind.”