Eastwood Academy community gets update on plans for new building

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Eastwood Academy students, staff, and community members attended the second community meeting on Thursday night to hear about proposed site and construction plans for a new building being constructed under the 2012 bond program.

The college preparatory charter high school, located off Dumble Street southeast of downtown, will incorporate a new two-story classroom wing to accommodate a campus of 500 students. The addition will be built on a field neighboring the school and will connect to the school’s existing building.

Students will continue to attend the existing school during construction, which is scheduled to begin in late 2015.

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“We wanted to hear from our students, teachers, parents, and community members about what this new facility should look like and what should be a part of it,” said Eastwood Academy Principal Paula Fendley. “We also want to be certain that we’re providing our students with 21st century learning experiences.”

The new building will align with the district’s global graduate initiative, which Fendley says Eastwood Academy has focused on for the last several years.

More on the Eastwood Academy project

“We know that when our students leave Eastwood Academy, they must be ready with all of the skills and knowledge to be successful in college careers and in life,” Fendley said.

Site plans for the school include a new student dining and multipurpose area, a career and technical education center, library, an athletics facility, and a SPARK park open to students and the neighborhood. The project will be split into two phases, beginning with construction of the south building followed by the north building addition to be completed at the end of 2017.

Prozign Architects presented site plans for the $10.8 million project to about 20 attendees at the meeting. The firm has worked closely with the project advisory team over the last year to adjust site plans that would best accommodate the educational needs of the students and staff.

“We were at the beginning stages of the project and had two different options of where to put the new building,” said Geoffrey Wheeler, project architect with Prozign. “Due to the need to use the existing building while the new addition is being built and spaces created by the location of the current building, we decided to move it.”

The career and technology center will feature engineering labs, a multimedia space for presentations and an area for the school’s cyber defense program. The center will also have access to an outdoor courtyard where students in the engineering program can work on building objects outside.

Laura Hernandez, who currently has siblings attending Eastwood, says she is impressed with plans for a new main entrance with updated security features and feels good that students will have a safe place to learn.

Student Eulises Beltran also said a new dining facility will help alleviate the tight space in the current cafeteria.

“A lot of kids are currently eating lunch in the multipurpose room, outside under the pavilion and spread throughout the hallways, so I’m most excited about having a bigger cafeteria,” Beltran said.

Beltran emphasized that it’s important for Eastwood to have a more flexible and modern building layout in order to support the needs of students.

“I’m most excited about the sizes of the classrooms, especially for extracurricular activities and engineering, cyber defense and computer lab courses,” Beltran said. “A new school means more space for students to work and makes for a better environment to learn.”

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