HUDSON — Fivay High School looks like no other school in Pasco County.
The brand new $49 million school, which has about four times more indoor space than a Publix grocery store, takes the best of past designs (particularly Rushe Middle) along with the lessons learned from other recent new high schools.
The result has principal Angie Stone and her team giddy with enthusiasm.
"I would describe it as a small college campus," said assistant principal Erik Hermansen as he toured the school, which remains under construction until mid June.
It's two stories, with a brick-lined courtyard filled with trees at the center of the classroom buildings. And it features many of the improvements that several principals recommended as necessary to avoid known future expenses.
The bus loop, student/staff parking and visitor lots don't share common entrances, for instance, in an effort to avoid the traffic entanglements that snarl other high schools. The hallway double doors have removable center bars to make it easier to move furniture around.
To speed up serving time, the cafeteria has six serving lines instead of four, as most other high schools have. Assistant principals have reception and meeting spaces in their offices, so students don't have to stand awkwardly outside while waiting for attention.
The classrooms even have built-in storage space and, to the delight of teachers coming from bunker-like Hudson High, windows.
"Just about everything we gave them, they've improved in this design," Stone said.
More than that, the school also enjoys the latest top-of-the-line equipment, plus some extras.
Hermansen was particularly enthralled with the culinary arts classroom and kitchen, which looks so professional that the cafeteria manager wondered whether it was the cafeteria kitchen. It's part of the school's planned culinary and hospitality learning community, which is slated to become its first career academy.
Assistant principal Matt McDermott, a former coach and athletic director, pointed to the school's many sports facility upgrades — built-in batting cages and ample storage under the football bleachers among them — as highlights. The field also includes a discus and shotput cage, and women's restrooms with almost three dozen toilets to get rid of long lines.
"Your athletic facilities are ready to go," he said.
The school's media center is larger than those in other schools, and it's attached to a large television production studio complete with a green-screen wall. The center even has a tiled area where the school will have cafe tables and a coffee bar, to give it more of a Barnes & Noble feel.
"We want the media center to be inviting," Stone explained. "We want kids to want to be there."
The indoor common areas have LCD projectors with screens for announcements and presentations, similar to other new schools. They've got extra lighting on the lower floor and glass block windows on the upper floors to allow more natural lighting, too.
The restrooms also feature a privacy upgrade. To discourage mischief, most high schools have private stalls but no main door on the restroom, so passersby can look right in. Fivay also has open doorways, but the stalls are tucked around a corner, out of public view.
The boys' locker room has individual shower stalls rather than group showers, too.
"We make sure to encourage hygiene," McDermott said.
Stone continues to hire teachers and establish course schedules as construction rolls to a close. She expects to take the keys on June 14. Fivay, which opens in August with ninth through eleventh graders, is projected to remain under its 1,800-student capacity for several years.
It's the final new high school scheduled to open in Pasco County for at least five years.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.