With some major changes inside the buildings, Watertown High School and Watertown Middle School could be remodeled to handle all the students coming through the town schools, an architectural consultant told the School Facilities Master Plan Steering Committee.
The outsides of the buildings would look much the same, but architect Michael van Hamel of SMMA said the schools could be brought up to modern standards without building brand new schools. He went over options during Wednesday night’s Steering Committee meeting which is planning for the master plan, due to come out in September.
He plans to reinvigorate space at the schools that are seldom used or not being used to their potential.
At the middle school, van Hamel said, the lower gym could be turned into a library and maker space. He also envisioned taking the cafeteria area and opening it up onto the courtyard area in the center of the school. Right now the courtyard can barely be accessed, but van Hamel said it will improve.
“It will bring life to the outdoor area and bring and openness to the cafeteria,” van Hamel said.
The plan would expand the building a little bit into the courtyard.
The classrooms will also be upgraded and perhaps reconfigured to allow for more project based and team learning, among other things.
At the high school, van Hamel said he could see taking the rooms near the cafeteria and turn it into a culinary arts area. He also would expand the arts area, and possibly move one of the the school’s programs down there.
“You will have to debate whether to have the maker space off the library or over in the arts area,” van Hamel said.
Another possibility would be to take part of the old vocational area, past the gym, and turn it into a choral room.
Several Steering Committee members asked whether something could be done to reopen the cat walk on the second floor of the gym, which has been closed due to safety reason. Now, students must go all the way around the building to get to the area on the other side of the catwalk.
There are possibilities, but van Hamel said he has not looked closely at that yet. That and other detailed discussions would come during the next phase of planning, after the master plan is complete.
During the meeting, van Hamel also talked about plans to expand and improve Watertown’s elementary schools. See the plans for the elementary schools by clicking here.
Costs for these proposals will be presented to the Steering Committee when it meets on Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. They will also be presented during the third and final Community Forum on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Watertown High School Auditorium.