HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico school leaders toured the new J.R. Tucker High School for the first time since construction began Monday morning.
In the background, construction workers were busy laying brick and drywall to get classrooms ready to welcome students this fall.
"What an incredible space for teaching and learning," said Henrico County Superintendent Amy Cashwell. “What you see in the new building was purposeful use of natural light everywhere, high ceilings, a lot of bringing the outdoors in and a lot of courtyard spaces."
The over $100 million project includes a learning kitchen, open library and state-of-the-art gym.
“The gym is actually going to be able to fit all of the kids in the school in the one gym, which has never happened before at Tucker, which is exciting," explained Micky Ogburn, who represents the Three Chopt District on the Henrico County School Board.
Parts of the old high school have already been torn down, and the new building sits where the football field was once located.
J.R. Tucker is being modeled after Glen Allen High School, with the goal of getting students into a new learning space as quickly as possible.
Ogburn believes the board made the right decision to build a new high school instead of renovating the current structure.
"The old building was in such bad shape," Ogburn explained. "It was going to need so much work that it just wasn’t financially viable to put all that money into a building that was built in the early 60s. We might as well put that money into something new and beautiful that will serve students for years to come."
Construction at J.R. Tucker is taking place at the same time the district is building a brand new Highland Springs High School, and renovating Holliday Elementary School.
Project managers say Highland Springs will be very similar to J.R. Tucker, but that school is increasing its seating capacity by 300 people.
Despite some unprecedented setbacks with COVID, both the three-and-a-half year projects are still on schedule to open in a little over three months.
“It was an aggressive timeline to start, but we’ve been able to meet that so far," Cashwell noted.
The district says not only are the J.R. Tucker and Highland Springs buildings going to be more conducive for collaboration learning and technology, but teachers at both schools have taken part in training to rethink the high school experience.
"They are going to experience really world class learning here in Henrico County," said Cashwell.