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Waccamaw High: School board approves plan for expansion

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

Changes are coming to Waccamaw High School. The Georgetown County School Board set them in motion this week, unanimously approving a capital improvement plan that calls for a series of new construction, renovations and upgrades at Waccamaw High as well as McDonald and Maryville elementary schools.

The plan calls for a new auditorium to be added to the band wing at Waccamaw High, the current auditorium to be renovated into a new media center and the area the current media center occupies to be transformed into space for six classrooms. The plan also provides for additional lab and lecture space for science classes.

“We’re getting a little bit of everything,” WHS principal David Hammel said. “We’ll have much-needed classroom space, plus an auditorium and media center that can be utilized by both students and the public.”

Estimated costs for the project total more than $5.3 million. The money allotted for the project is part of $17 million in federal stimulus money received through the interest-free American Recovery Act last year.

The plan that was approved on Tuesday still must face additional scrutiny. The final draft will be presented to the school board at a later date, but Hammel does not foresee any significant changes.

“I don’t believe it will change much,” Hammel said. The final version “will be very similar to what we are currently talking about.”

The plan was drafted by Usry, Wolfe, Peterson and Doyle, an architectural firm in Myrtle Beach. Once the board approves the final version, the project will be put out for bid. It is hoped construction will begin by June 2012.

Construction will be done in three phases: the new auditorium; installation of the new media center; the classroom space. The project is expected to take 13 months to complete.

The plan does not include any upgrades to the current band and chorus rooms.

“Those are on hold,” Hammel said. “We didn’t want to overspend on the current project. If the economy can turn around and we can find additional funds, then we will look at the prospects of doing other things.”

The new auditorium and new media center will have separate entrances from the school building. The auditorium will seat 600, up from 370. It will have a lobby with restrooms. The media center will have updated technology plus windows that overlook the front of the school.

“They both will be first class additions,” Hammel said. “The advantage of having separate entrances is accessibility, nobody will have to walk through the main entrance of the school to get to either area.

“We can use the auditorium for school and community functions. And we’re hoping the location of the new media center will increase foot traffic. For example, at the end of the day, it’s hard for students who are waiting for a ride to use the current media center. You can’t see out and tell if your ride is there or not.”

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