June 26, 2008

State-of-the-Art Elementary Schools Getting Set for Openings in the Fall


By Jeff Hampton

The Virginian-Pilot


Two new elementary schools are set to open soon in Currituck County with some of the latest in technology and construction, including a front door full-body security camera and amplifiers for teachers' voices.

The Shawboro school, which cost $16 million, is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the region at 93,000 square feet and a capacity for 700 students, said Bruce MacDonald, director of facilities planning for Currituck County Schools. The Jarvisburg school, at 67,000 square feet and costing $12 million, has common areas large enough to accommodate 700 students and classroom space for 300, he said.

Shawboro Elementary School is a little behind schedule, but officials still hope it can be ready by Aug. 25, the first day of school, MacDonald said. Jarvisburg Elementary is on schedule and is set to open the first day of school.

Both are built from the same plans. As population grows at the south end of Currituck County, the Jarvisburg school can be expanded to match the Shawboro school.

Among the innovations at both schools:

* At the front door, visitors will have to push a door bell fitted with a camera and a microphone. Inside, administrators can see visitors from head to toe and speak with them. All other doors will be locked.

* Audio amplifiers will augment teachers voices. Studies show that students are more attentive when teachers' voices are amplified, said Paul O'Briant, technical director for Currituck County Schools.

* Each classroom has an interactive white board that can show DVDs, display the Internet or cable television and be written on with electronic pens and erased. Notes on the board can be captured electronically and printed out for absent students.

* Students will have hand-held devices that electronically record answers to questions. Teachers can ensure that even shy or unprepared students can respond and if their answers are correct, O'Briant said.

* Each classroom will have four laptop s with wireless capability.

* Heating and air conditioning units are lined up for easy maintenance in an overhead room. Building and grounds director Willis Simmons can trouble-shoot problems and change room temperatures from a laptop at almost any location, McDonald said.

* No light switches are visible. A few lights always remain on but the rest automatically come on as the first person in the building walks down the hall or in the classroom, MacDonald said. After the school day, lights automatically turn off.

Jeff Hampton, (252) 338-0159,

[email protected]


Shawboro Elementary is a little behind schedule, but officials hope it can be ready for the first day of school, said Bruce MacDonald, director of facilities planning for Currituck Schools. Jarvisburg Elementary is on schedule .

Originally published by BY JEFF HAMPTON.

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