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NSD gears up for construction of new high school

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

Construction on the Northshore School District’s new high school is scheduled to begin this summer, Superintendent Larry Francois announced last week. The school is also closer to being named, with 900 name suggestions from the community narrowed down to eight.
The district’s fourth comprehensive high school will be located in the north end of the district, on a 61-acre property adjacent to Fernwood Elementary School.

“If you have any need to travel up in that end of the district, you know that there is a tremendous amount of growth that’s happening in that part of the community,” Francois said at a Bothell Chamber of Commerce meeting last week. “It had been going on prior to the Great Recession, it sort of went to a dead halt and within the last two or three years it has really picked up again.”

The new high school, which will have capacity for 1,600 students, is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, so it’s “right smack dab in the middle of its service area,” Francois explained.
Design and development for the high school finished last month, and NSD is now in the permitting process.

“We hope if we can get through the last hurdles of permitting, we can actually begin the earthwork and construction this summer,” Francois said, with the school hopefully opening in 2017.

The school will have innovative features such as a learning commons with “presentation stations” where two to three classes can come together to listen to a guest speaker.

“We think of it as kind of a watering hole area, so a place where people formally and informally come together, and work, exchange, talk, interact with one another,” Francois said.
The district is one step closer to finding a name for the school, after taking name suggestions from March through early May.

“We had over 900 submissions, many of which were totally inappropriate,” Francois said, to laughter. “We have some kids who got ahold of this process and really had a good time. And we have some great submissions, as well.”

The eight potential names are: Canyon Ridge High School, Duwamish High School, Greenview High School, North Creek High School, North View High School, Northbrook High School, Pacific Crest High School and Tambark High School. The names had to be geographically or historically oriented, and the school couldn’t be named after a person living or dead.
Now, another survey is available at www.nsd.org for the community to vote on the name through September. In October, the school board will decide the final name.

The new high school will help the district relieve overcrowding, in part because it will enable the district to reconfigure grade levels. The district will shift from a junior high model (in which grades K-6 are in elementary, grades 7-9 are in junior high and grades 10-12 are in high school) to a middle school model (in which grades K-5 are in elementary, grades 6-8 are in middle and grades 9-12 are in high school.) That means the district will no longer have to bus ninth graders to high schools every day for classes that aren’t offered in junior high.
“For large portions of the community, a high school can be a major identifier for that community,” Francois said. “...This will be the first high school added to our district since the early 1980s, when Woodinville High School was opened. It’s not something that happens every day. It’s a major event for a school district, maybe once in a generation, once every other generation.”

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