Local

August 9, 2012

Arizona’s first net-zero school dedicated on FH

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Story and photos by Robert Anderson
Scout Staff

A crowd gathers to witness the cutting of the ribbon at the new Colonel Smith Middle School and the beginning of a new era in education, where student-centered instruction is integrated with technology.

On Friday, the Fort Huachuca and local communities gathered to dedicate and cut the ribbon at the new Colonel Smith Middle School. The ceremony marked the beginning of a new era in education; from the physical building to new ideas of delivering instruction to the students. The school is the vision of Dr. Ronda Frueauff, superintendent, Fort Huachuca Accommodation Schools. Her vision was to create a student-centered school and a school vision to provide:

  • Authentic project based instruction
  • STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-driven, integrated, inquiry-based group instruction
  • Instructional support through integrated technology
  • A student-centered, teacher-facilitated school

And that is what Tony Wall, construction project manager, 3W Management, believes they accomplished with the new school.

“We took Ronda’s [Frueauff] vision of instructional delivery and 21st century learning … and that vision has driven us to this very day. We made student-center decisions during construction in landscape; in lighting; and certainly in design, because of the vision,” Wall said before recognizing the many people and organizations that assisted in bringing this vision to life.

The new Colonel Smith Middle School is Arizona’s first net-zero school and features three wind turbines at the front of the building that support the facility’s energy needs. The school was dedicated during a ceremony held on Friday.

Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, commanding general, United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, also shared his optimism for the future of the new school.

“It’s my honor today to be able to recognize the hard work and commitment that has been poured into this facility. I am honored to be a part of what I truly think is a historic moment, as we open the doors to Arizona’s first net-zero, one of only twelve in the country, net-zero schools,” Potter said.

Net zero means the school produces as much energy as it uses; through a combination of wind and solar energy harnessed on site. The school has three wind turbines and solar panels that generate enough energy to power the building. The school also features more than 90 skylights, making use of southeast Arizona’s more than 200 days of clear, sunny skies. The overall building design and landscaping has little or no negative impact on the environment.

Closing remarks were made by Robert Henderson, principal of Colonel Smith Middle School and Cindy Berry, governing board member for FHAS.

Henderson began by thanking all who worked and gave their time and effort to the design and construction of the school, at the same time understanding the goal and vision the new school would take on. He then offered a few thoughts about the journey and challenges that lie ahead at the new facility.

The star over the main entrance of the new Colonel Smith Middle School signifies that all the students entering the school are ‘stars.’ Fort Huachuca Accommodation Schools began the 2012/2013 school year yesterday, and the first group of students at the new school are the first ‘stars’ to use the new facility.

“The dedication today, marking the end of that journey, more importantly marks the beginning of a new journey; a much longer journey than the one just completed. It is a journey that will also be fraught with challenges, excitement and great rewards. It is a journey that involves the future generations of students, as we prepare them to meet the many challenges of the 21st century, and to live rewarding and productive lives. The school must and will provide the tools needed to accomplish this very daunting task,” Henderson stated.

“There can be no greater testament to the Fort Huachuca community’s commitment to education than this school. Thank you all for your support of this endeavor,” Henderson concluded.

“This school represents the idea of what a school can be. From its initial conception, Colonel Smith Middle School was intended to be more than a static building where learning would take place, but rather to be a dynamic element of the students’ learning experience. Creativity, curiosity, individuality, critical thinking — these are the hallmarks,” Berry added

Classrooms at the new Colonel Smith Middle School feature amenities that make it easy for students and teachers to work collaboratively. The new desks are on wheels, and the tabletops adjust to several different positions. The Promethean board allows teachers to present students with a variety of media options, working on the some screen.

The crowd then gathered for the ribbon cutting, officially opening the new Colonel Smith Middle School to Fort Huachuca’s military children and the community. Frueauff was joined by Potter; Wall; Col. Dan McFarland, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Huachuca; Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Holiday, USAICoE command sergeant major; and others who were instrumental in project planning, construction and completion.

Following the ribbon cutting students, teachers and district personnel invited attendees to tour the new school and behold the many educational treasures that await Smith MS students.

Fort Huachuca Accommodation Schools began the 2012/13 school year yesterday, and the students of the new Colonel Smith Middle School started the journey described by their principal.

Val Quarto (head turned) shows attendees of the new Colonel Smith Middle School dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony key features of the school’s Research Commons which is what the new library is called.

The Student Collaboration Area features mediascape, a big overhead projector, and computer stations. Mediascape allows students to plug-in their laptops or iPads and share information with their classmates, while the overhead projector lets teachers present to the entire class or several classes working in the area.

Danielle Baer (left), 13, 8th grader at Colonel Smith Middle School, leads (from left) Sierra Vista Mayor Pro Tem Carol Dockter; and Sierra Vista Councilmen Bob Blanchard, Thomas Reardon and Larry Hampton on a tour of the new school.




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