Imagining the future of Gainesville High School is becoming a little easier now that new buildings are taking shape on campus.
“There are so many things that are going to help a student be successful and a leader in the community, and facilities are a small part of it,” Gainesville Superintendent Jeremy Williams said. “We’ve got almost four buildings being worked on right now. The next few months are definitely going to be the busiest months we’ve had in a while.”
As a part of Gainesville High’s $55 million improvement project, a 43,000-square-foot Advanced Studies Center now sits on the corner of Rainey Street and Century Place.
Adrian Niles, Gainesville City Schools chief operations officer, said the building is around 70% complete and will open at the start of the school year in fall 2021. The center will house the school’s career, technical and agricultural education programs, in addition to higher level classes such as AP biology and AP chemistry. Niles said the building will have various labs, classroom space and an open area for collaboration for students.
To the left of the high school’s main entrance, the new two-story, 44,000-square-foot cafeteria and media center structure is starting to come up. Construction workers broke ground on the site in November 2020. Niles said it is anticipated to open in January 2022.
Two other improvements up to bat include a three-story education wing connected to the media center and cafeteria, and a three-story, 90,000-square-foot Student Activities Center, which is expected to reach completion by July 2022. It will be located behind the new cafeteria and media center.
Williams said the Student Activities Center will have a gymnasium, locker rooms, meeting spaces, offices, classrooms and a top story for the school’s marching band and the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. A track will overlook the gym on the second story.
By erecting these new buildings, the school will not only be able to increase its capacity for more students, but become more centralized.
“Right now Gainesville High School is using 13 buildings across that campus, and there’s a lot of foot traffic up and down the hill,” Williams said. “What we’re doing is growing the campus where everything is along Century Place.”
Off McEver Road in Gainesville, work is already underway for the district’s new middle school that will open in August 2023. Niles said the two-story building will be around 185,000 square feet and include an indoor gym, sports fields, “state-of-the-art” science labs, classrooms and a media center. The project is priced at $25 million.
With the new school, Williams said they’ll be able to divide Gainesville Middle’s numbers in half, allowing for enrollment growth and providing more individualized attention to students.
“To have a second middle school in the southwest part of the city is going to be a great opportunity, not only for families and students, but employees as well,” Williams said.
This spring, Williams said he plans to ask for the community’s input regarding the middle school’s name, attendance zone, mascot and other details.
With over 125 years of graduating classes, Williams said school officials intend to work diligently to preserve the area’s history as they erect new buildings.
The district’s heritage committee is gathering artifacts and memorabilia from the high school and other past and present schools within Gainesville. Williams said the items will most likely be displayed in the new Advanced Studies Center, and the cafeteria and media center building.
People are encouraged to complete the Heritage Collection survey in the community tab under “alumni and former students” on the system’s website, if they are interested in offering an item or have memorabilia in possession.
So far, Williams said the district has seen a range of submissions like megaphones from the ‘70s and a yearbook from 1914.
“Whether you’re a Gainesville High School, Butler High or Fair Street graduate, there’s a level of accomplishment that those who have come before us have experienced,” he said. “We want to show our current students what has come before and has been accomplished.”
The Gainesville school board on Monday, March 29, approved the nearly $121,000 purchase of furniture that will be moved into the new advanced studies center being constructed on its high school campus.