Conversion of old Clarke High School nearing completion

Posted: April 26, 2014

The Winchester Star

This view from Wilbur Feltner Stadium shows the addition to the former Clarke County High School, which is being renovated. The project is 70 percent complete, according to officials. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Clarke County Schools Superintendent Mike Murphy describes the new secure entrance to the D.G. Cooley Elementary School South campus. The school will be in the renovated former Clarke County High School. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Plans for a classroom are taped to the door frame of a room in the former high school. The new school will have 24 classrooms.

BERRYVILLE — The project to convert the former Clarke County High School on Westwood Road into an elementary school is 70 percent complete, officials say.

When it opens for classes in August, the facility — called the D.G. Cooley Elementary School South Campus — will house pre-kindergarten through first-grade students from Berryville Primary and second- and third-grade students from Cooley.

The Apple Country Head Start child development program, now held in Boyce Elementary School, will also be housed at the renovated school.

“It’s going to look great,” said Schools Superintendent Mike Murphy. “[General contractor] Caldwell & Santmyer are doing a phenomenal job.”

The project involves renovating the core structure for grades one through three and building a 12,239-square-foot addition onto the north side of the building for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.

A 21,102-square-foot addition to the west end of the facility for fourth- and fifth-graders may be completed at a later date, depending on funding.

Those students, who will stay at D.G Cooley for now, would move to the former high school during that undetermined second phase of the project — leaving Cooley for administrative use.

The project is expected to be substantially complete by July 9 — a month later than expected due to inclement weather. The delay, according to the officials, won’t affect the start of classes in August.

The upgraded school will have 24 classrooms.

The project involves the addition of handicapped-accessible toilets, a new state-of-the-art and energy-efficient mechanical room, a new air conditioning system, a double-door entryway for security purposes and several light monitors that will add sunlight in most classrooms.

“Every room has a window unless it’s designed not to have a window,” Murphy said, adding that the school will no longer have that “dingy, dark” feel.

Classrooms, once with 638 square feet, will now have 850 square feet, and the hallways will be two feet wider after the lockers were removed.

In the new addition, all eight classrooms will have a bathroom.

The project, which will cost about $6.7 million, is made possible by the $7.2 million left over from the construction of Clarke County High School on Mosby Boulevard (the facility opened in 2012).

Resident Lisa Goshen said she is pleased that trailers are no longer at the school and that many of the younger students will now be together.

“It feels like it’s all making sense,” she said.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com