First Look: Touring the new Bonita Springs High School

Lee Herald Favicon 16Bonita Springs High School is ready for its first showing.

The $85 million project, the newest school in Lee County and the first high school in Bonita Springs, will open up its permanent campus to students for the first day on Friday after operating at a temporary facility on the property of Estero High School last year.

“It’s a big deal for the community, much less the county.  We’re in high gear for opening and the schools unveiling is the most important part.  The first prototype building for the next schools to be built in Lee County,” Bonita Springs principal Jeff Estes said.

Slated for a maximum capacity of around 1,800 students, they currently have in the 700-800 range, and only freshmen and sophomores currently.  The 2019 school year will open up to their first year of juniors.

Security is the big talk of the night and it’s obvious the facility is built with it in mind.   The digital “doorbell” at the front is the only way to access it.

“There is one main entrance accessible to the office and you’ll need to have an ID to even get in to the office. We’re also going to have escorts in most cases, so no wandering the campus aimlessly,” Estes said.

The school’s mascot is the Bull Sharks, and the school’s blue and green athletic scheme permeates the entire building. Another eye catching trait in the halls is the lack of lockers.  Aside from the athlete lockers and the band lockers, there’s no need for them, Estes said.

“We’re going full digital for school books and assignments.  Working with the Overdrive series of websites and apps, all students have their entire course of books loaded on to their chromebooks.  Nobody will need a locker because they can fit their daily supplies in a laptop bag,” Estes said.

Every classroom is interior facing and splits off in to three main hallways from the center.  Ease of visibility and security were the primary design concerns with the layout.  Each hallway leads to one of the three active classroom areas, the theater and band section, and the gym and cafeteria.

Each classroom is built with a community in mind.  Chairs facing inward to table-mates instead of the familiar rows of chairs and desks.

“This is probably one of my favorite design choices.  We want kids to work together, to learn together, and to grow together.  Most of these kids are going to go all four years in the same group, we want a heavy social sense of community,” Estes says.

The gym and workout rooms, and even a dance room for the eventual expansion of the arts programs, are construction fresh. Once again, the colors and the Bull Shark are everywhere. The weight room is blue and green and covered in logos, as is the mint fresh basketball court.

The cafeteria is larger than necessary, but Estes tells us this is to encourage a relaxed, safe eating space.  He wants it to encourage kids to have the room to move around and have their time.

The theater is unique, a black box styled theater with modular, auto-stacking seating.  They aim to host any number of events, from community to school-based.

The ‘academy’ classes in the back are some of the more impressive pieces shown.  HVAC, Nursing, and Aerospace are some of the first of their kind.  Allowing students to have some kind of vocational training during their four-year stay, they can also builds college-transferrable credits; up to 62 depending on the program.  They’re also planning for dual-enrollment with FGCU to keep the state of learning constant and upwards.

“We want our kids to have every opportunity.  Vocation, advanced college courses, medical, we want to have as many options as possible and to encourage growth in not only education, but the furthering of any interests the students may come up with.”  Estes said.

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