December 11, 2013 AdminHBA Design

New Kellam High School redefines the 21st century learning environment

This is a re-post from the VBCPS blog, found here:

“This post was submitted from the VBCPS Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, which is overseen by Tony Arnold, director.

On Jan. 27, 2014, more than 2,000 students and staff will report to the new 349,350 square-foot Kellam High School, located at 2665 West Neck Rd. Since 1998 VBCPS has constructed twenty nine facilities at a cost of $556 million. Kellam’s new replacement building is the first high school construction project built in Virginia Beach since Landstown High School opened its doors in 2001.  Kellam, with a total project cost of $102 million, will be the eighth LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building constructed by VBCPS since 2005. Through careful planning and system selection, the added efficiencies that result from building to LEED standards has allowed the School Division to keep the cost per square foot of new construction significantly lower than the rest of the region’s standard construction costs.

To see how the cost of our LEED facilities compare to other school divisions in our region, see the graph below:

11-25-2013 3-38-22 PM

Unique sustainability features to the new Kellam range from the use of rainwater to irrigate ball fields, to treating storm water on site, to the design of an edible garden adjacent to the culinary arts classroom, and a vegetative roof that is accessible from the second floor art rooms.  In addition, the core of the new building is designed to withstand a Category II hurricane.  Integrated energy, water and related system efficiencies will result in continued operational savings to be realized throughout the life of the building.

The new Kellam is also a result of an extensive collaborative planning and design process that took teachers, students and curriculum advisors, as well as business and community leaders, through a series of hands-on workshops.  During the planning phase, 120 students from five classes participated in a challenge-based learning project to design the school’s educational courtyard.  As a direct result of student input and collaboration, the educational courtyard will greet all of Kellam’s students and staff when they walk through the doors in January.


However, what truly makes Kellam unique among its peers is the integration of learning communities that are designed to facilitate problem-based and project-based learning. These learning community spaces are designed to facilitate student discussion and collaboration as well as presentation and demonstration skills.  With the benefit of the school’s design, teachers at Kellam will also participate in an educational commissioning that will highlight inter-disciplinary learning opportunities.

Chris Freeman, AP Environmental Science teacher at Kellam, provided a great example of inter-disciplinary opportunities that will be cultivated within the new building. During a recent tour of the building conducted by the project architect, Mike Ross, 60 Kellam students discussed the benefits of their new learning environment.  When asked if students understood the concept of inter-disciplinary, Mr. Freeman provided the following example: “Each year I teach about the dust bowl as it relates to water conservation, climate change, monocultures, etc… the English teacher down the hall was talking about the dust bowl when teaching the Grapes of Wrath. Furthermore, the history teacher was discussing the dust bowl during American history. Now, the three of us can get together and talk about how our classes can complement each other.”

Many students, who at first connected inter-disciplinary with being sent to the principal’s office, will now be able to truly benefit from the collaborative approach to 21st century learning, within a building designed to foster the inter-disciplinary approach.

It has been said that, great teachers don’t teach, they provide an environment where learning can take place. Teachers, staff and students, and those of us that build and maintain these buildings, are all active participants in creating that environment. Please feel free to ask us questions about the School Division’s facilities and utilize them as opportunities to have students explore their built environment, by planning a visit in person or on-line. Needless to say, we are proud of the buildings that are built in VBCPS and look forward to their ability to support student success.”  Aerial