Northwest’s newest high school is designed for the 21st century

Still 10 months away from students filling the halls, V.R. Eaton High School is taking shape as a 21st century educational facility.

On Wednesday, dozens of officials and community members toured the building and signed a beam as part of a “topping out ceremony” celebrating the placement of the last piece of steel. Many of the walls and ceiling joists were already in place, with signs designating spaces for counseling offices, the library, art classrooms and “Java City,” the school’s coffee bar.

“This is an exciting day for us. We have a new home and a new adventure in learning here,” said Superintendent Karen Rue. “There is nothing more exciting than starting a new high school.”

Eaton will be the third comprehensive high school in the Northwest district, which remains one of the fastest growing districts in the region. The district, which covers 234 square miles in three counties, adds more than 1,400 students annually and also has five middle schools and 17 elementary schools.

Visitors at Eaton had the chance to see the partially completed competition gym, theater, cafeteria and spaces set aside for the Academy of Business Management and Entrepreneurship.

The wing of the building housing the academy will feature large windows, removable glass partitions to provide areas for a few students collaborating on a project or large group meetings. Students in the academy will design, produce and market their own products.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our kids,” said Eaton Principal Carri Eddy. “They will get hands-on real-world experience in business.”

The challenge has been to design a building that “facilitates learning,” Eddy said, with a focus on flexible spaces and areas that encourage collaboration.

Seniors in business courses at Byron Nelson and Northwest high schools are helping choose how the academy will be furnished so it will look more like professional offices than high school classrooms. Younger students who are slated to attend the campus will help decide the school song, what the Eagle mascot will look like and the mission statement, Eddy said.

The school will open in August with about 1,000 freshmen and sophomores.

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The 530,000-square-foot building, southwest of U.S. 287 and Blue Mound Road near Haslet, has a total estimated cost of $136 million. The campus, designed by Corgan Architects, has a collegiate feel with two courtyards.

Ben Pogue, president and CEO of Pogue Construction, said the finished building will have 1.8 million bricks and, if they were stacked on top of one another, would rise 85 miles into the air.

The site will need more than 4,000 truckloads of concrete before it is completed.

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