It was a race to the finish, but the newly-constructed Regional Science and Technology Center at Dobyns-Bennett High School is officially open for learning.
“It’s business as usual here, as much as it can be, on the first day of school in a new space,” said Andy True, assistant superintendent for Kingsport City Schools.
In the weeks leading up to the start of school, the front of Dobyns-Bennett was crowded with construction equipment. But most of the dirt, bulldozers, and fencing are now cleared away. Students were able to use the new space on their first day back at class on Monday.
“Twenty two hundred students are arriving to Dobyns -Bennett for the first time today and seeing this new facility,” True said.
The $20 million, 70,000-square-foot addition faced construction delays this spring due to heavy rain. Freshman orientation had to be called off last week because parking lot construction wasn’t complete.
“We felt it wasn’t a safe environment for hundreds of cars to come on campus for orientation,” said True, noting that new students instead had their orientation when they arrived at school Monday morning.
Now the balconies and walkways are filled with students finding their way around the three-story space.
“The first day it’s been a lot of helping students find where they need to go,” True said. “New traffic patterns not only for foot traffic inside the building, but also car traffic outside.”
With students now filling the 18 lab areas, teachers can teach like never before. Kris Krautkremer said she’s been teaching at Dobyns-Bennett for 17 years. Her new classroom is unlike any she’s ever had. Movable walls mean her AP Biology lessons will never be the same.
“We have a technology-enriched space right next door,” Krautkremer said. “And so we can go over there, it’s going to broadcast all around the room. The kids can be working on different things.”
So while students are learning robotics, chemistry, and biology, teachers are making discoveries of their own.
“We’ll learn how to use [the space] even better,” Krautkremer said. “But immediately we can think of 20, 30 different ways we can do work that we couldn’t do before.”