At 8:15 Friday morning, the common area in the north building, the Common Building, of the new filled, not with students, but with adults eager for a glimpse of the hallways and classrooms their tax dollars built and their children will soon fill.
More than 80 people turned up for the tour that introduced guests to the Common Building and the Academic Building, both of which will officially become the home of Wayland High School when students return after December break.
"There are things we'll be able to do in the first week over here, that we couldn't do in the old building," said Principal Pat Tutwiler.
In particular, the new buildings feature technologies that are rare or nonexistent in the old buildings. Walking through the classrooms in the Academic Building, Tutwiler pointed out Eno boards in each room that are not only environmentally friendly, but are interactive white boards from which teachers can print what has been written as well as use traditional dry erase markers or a computer stylus.
Each of those boards serves as a backdrop for a document camera, which Tutwiler described as a modern overhead projector. The cameras take images of what is happening in front of the lens and project it onto the Eno boards, a technology that could be used for any number of teaching tasks including allowing students to watch in real-time as a biology teacher performs a dissection.
"Eno boards allow cool interactive things to exist while in the middle of the classroom," said Eilif Mikkelsen, a senior at Wayland High and the student liaison to the high school building project. Mikkelsen said teachers who wanted to use digital technology in the old classrooms were often relegated to a corner of the room, not working in front of their students.
The Academic Building is divided into color-coded quadrants, which Tutwiler said was an intentional decision to help students easily find their way around the building. Hallways featuring tiles in red, blue, green or orange correspond to the academic departments in each. Science labs, some designed specifically for physics and physical science and others equipped for chemistry and biology classes, line the front of the two-story Academic Building.
At the center of the building stands the Media Center. Tutwiler said it is slightly smaller than the Media Center in the old buildings, but several typical Media Center activities have been "decentralized" to other parts of the buildings.
"We expect students to talk in here," Tutwiler said, standing in the Media Center. "We expect them to collaborate."
One "decentralized" activity is studying, which can occur in a couple of outdoor areas; the Common Area, which will also serve as the cafeteria; and a total of four study areas, known as Student Learning Centers, set up in the quadrants of the Academic Building. The SLCs feature sofas; computers, which will be passed down to other schools as the ; and are located near the department offices for the various departments, which makes seeking assistance simpler.
"Be mindful of flexible space," Tutwiler told tour participants before beginning the tour. "Careful thought went into every square inch of these two buildings."
As Tutwiler led tour participants through a 600-seat auditorium, the common area, multiple conference rooms and even a lecture hall, he discussed the various ways each area could be used in addition to its most obvious use.
From orchestra rehearsal in the auditorium to students practicing presentations in the conference rooms, Tutwiler said he wanted to make sure the students used the building to its full potentila, but he isn't going to force the issue.
"Cultures emerge," Tutwiler said, explaining that the students' experience will be different in the new buildings than it was in the old. There will be more of a "hallway culture" in that students don't have to travel so much outside.
"A lot of the way people are going to ... is just going to emerge."
Tutwiler said he feels good about the planning that has gone into the transition to the new building, but he also knows it will likely also be a bit stressful for the students to learn a new system.
"Any change is going to cause some anxiety," Tutwiler said. "We're trying to answer a lot of questions and demystify it."
Student tour groups, in fact, passed the public tour group Friday morning and Tutwiler said those student tours had been taking place for several days.
"This is a well-planne endeavor," Tutwiler said. "There's been lots of thought put into how to transition the students."