Homestead High School is in the second phase of its ongoing reconstruction project, which will result in new additions and renovations throughout the entire campus.

On Dec. 2, school officials revealed renderings of several soon-to-be constructed spaces in the school’s fine arts, athletics and physical education wings, including a new student entrance, competition gymnasium and auditorium.

“These are the first real renderings we’ve had, and they’re areas I think that are of great interest to the public — they’re public-use spaces,” Southwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Phil Downs said. “… I’m very excited with how good they look and, not just that, but how well designed they’re going to be for our teachers and students.”

It’s just the second of five phases of a $169 million project expected to be completed by the start of the 2024-25 school year, which will bring the school’s total size to about 700,000 square feet.

“More than half of that will be brand new construction, and that (space) that’s renovated will appear brand new, so it will all look as one cohesive school when you walk through it in the future,” architect Dodd Kattman, of MKM Architecture and Design, said.

The new building will accommodate about 3,000 students. Its new, more compact design was devised as a way to encourage “critical thinking, independent learning, collaboration, community,” Kattman said. “It’s very compact as compared to the aging and sprawling campus that they have now. That will allow perhaps a few minutes for staff and students to get to know each other in passing periods between classes. We’ve intentionally designed a lot of transparency between the classrooms and some of the collaboration spaces where students can learn in the classroom and can also be allowed to collaborate in small groups outside the classroom while being supervised by the staff here.”

The new building will also include a new commons and media center that will become the “main street” of the building, connecting physical education, performing arts and other educational spaces together, Kattman said.

Downs noted the new design will also address inefficiency issues with the building, making it easier for students to navigate the halls, just as one example.

“You listen to kids about the type of environment they like to do their work in, you talk to teachers about what they need to do a better job in the classroom, and a lot of that is the input that has been guiding the architects as they’ve designed it,” Downs said.

The new gym will accommodate about 3,000 people and will include a video scoreboard. The new auditorium will seat 995 with a significantly larger stage and orchestra pit.

Southwest Allen County Schools announced its plans to move forward with the project last April. Some site development work began this summer, and construction on new sections of the building will begin over the school’s winter break.

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