It’s the end of an era at Salina South High School. The pod classrooms, which the school became known for when it opened in 1971, are going away. Friday was the last day of classes for students in the pods, while teachers finished on Monday.
As part of a voter approved bond project South is undergoing a major renovation, which is now nearly complete.
Rooms in new wings are taking the place of the old pods, which were were wide open. Most of the rooms in the pods had no permanent walls, no doors, and none had windows.
Though the district worked hard at maintaining them, over the years there were multiple issues with the pods. The roof leaked. Other issues included things like floors that were sinking, and concerns about asbestos and mold. There were concerns about school safety. And there were heating and cooling challenges as well.
Science, math, technology, and special education teachers relocated to the new wing last school year during spring break, and those pods came down. A couple of the pods were still utilized though. Other teachers this school year were still in the pod classrooms while phase II of the construction project progressed.
The wing that houses arts and English classes was next to be built. Those teachers, and their students were the last to use the pod class rooms. Their new wing will open for class in the Fall.
Phase III of the project will soon begin. The last of the pods will be demolished to make way for parking. This should take just a matter of weeks to complete.
The new wings still have the open pod concept, but with glass, doors, and yes windows. They new wings are not round like the pods were, though.
There are multiple features that contribute to a new, unique, learning environment. Along with the modern classrooms, there are collaborative common work areas for students to utilize. Students can gather in these areas to work and to relax.
There will be a coffee-shop type snack bar and a cougar store, staffed by students. The currency used will be “cougar dollars,” which can be earned, among other ways, through academic progress and through good behavior.
Salina voters approved a $110.7 million bond issue in April 2014. The bond addresses district needs including safety and security, all-day Kindergarten, career and technical education and major improvements at both high schools. Among those improvements are a much-needed renovation of Salina South High School.