BABCOCK RANCH, Fla — School will start Monday for nearly 800 students in Babcock Ranch, and about half of them will be in the new Babcock High School building.
“They just have an opportunity to do things that nobody else can do,” Syd Kitson, town developer, says.
The new 45,000 square foot building will be on the same campus as the original Babcock Neighborhood School, and will also focus on project based learning. That’s where students choose a topic and identify a real world problem, then research the topic and find a solution.
In addition to traditional classrooms, there will be specialized rooms for students to do that work. There’s a computer lab where they can focus on cyber-security. A science lab where they can study robotics in agriculture. And a room they call the Make Tank.
“We wanted to design a space for students to be able to go in and bring whatever their project ideas are, to life,” Amanda Sanford, BHS principal says.
The Make Tank is a workspace with tools that range from traditional woodworking to 3D printers.
“They’re going to be able to get in there and play with the robotics and design electric cars. 3D print things for the community, or anything they need to do,” Sanford says.
And because much of their work will be done in groups, the students will have rooms that are specially designed for collaboration.
“We really wanted a space that would engage the students differently, than a traditional classroom,” Shannon Treece, Executive Director of Babcock Schools, says.
The 2,700 square foot assembly space is one of the first things you see when you walk into the school. There are several multi-functional workspaces in a large open area. There are also several smaller spaces throughout the school.
“Students can actually go into those spaces and work and still be supervised by the teacher, as well,” Treece says. "So during a class, if they realize they need a little bit of time to work together and collaborate on a project, they can pop into that room and do their work.”
The teachers have a similar space of their own. Everything is open, there are a lot of windows. That’s partly for supervision, but it’s also meant to show how active everyone is. The school hopes it will inspire and energize the students.
The other major addition is the field house. It has three full-sized basketball courts, which will be home to BHS athletics.
“This is the next step. Having athletic facilities that are second none, maybe even in the state,” Kitson says. “But remember, we’re a STEAM-based curriculum. And the arts are a big part of that.”
So the field house also has a stage for performances.
The school hopes to use the building for community events and graduations. It’s also certified to be a hurricane shelter for up to 1,300 people.
Kitson says it all goes back to the original vision for Babcock Ranch. A town built on sustainability and innovation. And at the center of everything, this school.
"The idea that this is excellence and this is what we’re striving for,” Sanford says. "But we also wanted to make it fun. So students get up every morning wanting to go to school. They need to find their own why and their own passion."