Sullivan County school board members during a Thursday work session got a first glimpse of what the new high school off Exit 63 of Interstate 81 may look like. It includes lots of glass at the main entrance outside and intermingling of academic and career technical space inside, which architects called a unique design.
In addition, the board, which in mid-April looked at renderings of the new middle school near Sullivan East High, learned that the new middle school may adjoin the pending Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail through Sullivan County and could have Overmountain or East in its name, although that would be after input from an online survey to choose a name for the school. The survey is set to start in August.
Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said at the end of a work session with architects that a committee working on the middle school name, mascot and colors found overwhelming support for the middle school sharing the same colors — red, white and blue, and mascot — Patriots, as the high school.
After results from the online survey, set to be on the school system’s website under “A New Trail Along an Old Path” and go live when school goes back in session in August, she expects to recommend a middle school name for a vote at the September school board meeting. Rafalowski said a similar committee will look at the naming, mascot and colors for the new high school, which will be a combination of students from the current high school zones of Sullivan North, South and some Central areas, with the rest going to East.
The new middle school will take the place of the East zone’s middle schools. The middle school is slated for early site construction in the fall and completion in the summer of 2019; the high school for early site construction in the late fall and completion in the summer of 2020.
Although she would not elaborate, she said a historical connection may be in the offing for the new high school, which will be about 3 miles from the current Central High School, which like South is to become a middle school, and off the same interstate exit at Tri-Cities Airport.
The county is getting money from the National Park Service for the Overmountain trail project, commemorating the exodus of American patriots from the region to fight in the Revolutionary War Battle of King’s Mountain on Oct. 7, 1780. It could go right by the new middle school.
LS3P, a national firm with a base in North Carolina, is designing both schools along with Kingsport-based Cain Rash West Architects. The middle school is to cost about $20 million, the high school about $60 million. They are being funded from proceeds from a $160 million countywide bond issue also shared for Kingsport and Bristol, Tenn., school capital projects.
Kingsport is buying North High from the county to convert it into a city middle school and putting a new front and science and technology center at Dobyns-Bennett High School. Bristol is to build a new Vance Middle School.
Architect Mary Beth Branham of LS3P gave the board a rendering of the high school for the first time, with the only board question about a shed-style roof on a front portion that the architects will revisit with proposed hip and flat roofs at the next work session in a month or two. The two-story outcropping from the school would be visible from I-81, as would the football stadium.
Branham also gave the board an updated rendering of the middle school with a portico or porch on the front with a square, hip roof and a second option with a rounded roof, but board members indicated that they preferred the look and lower cost of the first option. Jerry Greene said he preferred spending money on something other than “to glorify a front porch,” while other members agreed and liked the look of the hip-roof portico.
Dineen West of Cain Rash West and other architects also presented to the board.