Rebuilding WHS for a Stronger Educational Program

by cbohne on October 28, 2013

Rebuilding WHS for a Stronger Educational Program


The Winchester High School community is eager to see a reconstructed Winchester High School that will match our community commitment to educational values.  We believe in critical thinking, creativity and effective communication.  These values infuse the WHS educational program, but struggle to be realized in the current facility.

We have had great success and recognition, but we cannot assume that will continue in a facility that fails to promote the key attributes of highly successful schools:

  • Science classes should be taught in an environment that promotes inquiry and problem-based learning.  But exterior labs are completely separate, and investigation must now be scheduled rather than seamlessly incorporated into instruction.
  • Cramming sometimes 26 students into shared desks within only 500 ft2,  with nooperable windows or direct daylight, proves disruptive, difficult and depressing.  Some classes are taught in the departmental open spaces or makeshift temporary rooms.
  • Engineering and robotics courses are taught in the former auto shop, isolated from the library and academic infrastructure space, in an area with deficient technology.
  • Spaces for the performing arts should include appropriate acoustical design plus adequate ceiling height.  WHS offers neither, and music classrooms have persistent mildew and moisture issues.
  • The library-media center lacks the smaller spaces required for instructing research skills to classes and conducting collaborative work, as well as the technology resources, for students to do research and become information literate.

The renovated WHS will address each of these challenges with ten more core academic classrooms to meet growing enrollment, and expanded library, arts, dining, special education and specialist spaces.  Relocated within the current school footprint, most classrooms will have exterior operable windows that will improve lighting and provide fresh air.

We cannot predict how the use of space might change in the future as we add more students or revise programming.  The proposed rebuilt WHS is designed to be flexible with large group, small group, and typical core classrooms.  People learn in many different ways, and spaces must adapt easily to a variety of teaching styles.  Classrooms are more than just empty boxes.  Their strategic use can promote or discourage collaboration, independent study, lectures, or team-based learning.

Comfortable, moveable furniture, work surfaces with ample electrical wiring, planning spaces in classrooms for teachers, are all necessary to promote a culture of respect, collaboration and professionalism.  Every teacher’s priority is connecting with students, both one-on-one or in small and large groups.  This priority will show in redesigned teacher workspaces.

Student and staff safety are of the utmost priority to all.  The current 77 points of access to the building make monitoring difficult.  Once inside, the current maze of hallways and classrooms will be replaced by fully accessible walkways, full of dynamic events that bring people together and lead them toward new learning.

We look forward to a new WHS with green design elements infused throughout the school, improving energy consumption, lighting, temperature control and air quality.

A renovated WHS will give the community a building that reflects our high educational standards and can only serve to improve student achievement, the academic program and school climate.

Respectfully submitted,

The WHS Leadership Team
Tom Gwin, Principal
Sue Mochrie, Assistant Principal
Jerry Chapman, Assistant Principal
Tom Haver, Director of Mathematics
Judy Hession, Director of English
Mike Marchand, Director of Science
Chris Kurhajetz, Director of Social Studies
Anna Tirone, Director of Foreign Language
Mary Costello, Co-Director of Music
Jennifer Levatino, Director of Art
Suzanne Ontso, Director of Guidance
Kristine Lacey, Special Ed. Supervisor
David Petty, Lead Teacher, Technology and Engineering
Pam Saba, Director of Wellness




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