Daryn Morris, principal of Fayette County’s Southside Technical Center, has a vision — several visions, in fact.
He wants one day for people looking for the best public high school career and technical education in the nation to think “Southside” in Lexington.
In his vision, the school on Harrodsburg Road in Lexington would use one kitchen for commercial baking and a have a new public restaurant and kitchen in the front of the building that would showcase the culinary students’ talents. This year, culinary students are turning out some mean barbecue ribs on the student-built pit. Morris also wants them to have the infrastructure to produce meals on a regular basis for the homeless.
The pre-nursing lab, where state registered nurse aide students train with medical beds and “dummy” patients and where medical science will be taught, would one day better mimic a high tech patient room at a Lexington hospital. Some students are already working in area hospitals and nursing homes — a testament, Morris said, to the quality training students are getting. Three nurses are on the instructional staff, including one who works at a medical program Southside offers at Bryan Station High School.
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As part of the vision, just outside the building a huge warehouse would one day let some students build model homes winter and summer, rain or shine. Other students would be able to skillfully outfit those models with the latest in home automation, from being able to mount everything from flat screen televisions to home security systems.
And Morris has a more basic vision: That the labs where students learn the skills that will allow them to work at area manufacturing centers, construction jobs, hospitals and restaurants would have air conditioning.
“It’s hard to learn if you are miserable,” Morris said. He finally resorted to renting a portable air-conditioning unit for one of the labs.
Like Eastside Technical, Southside’s counterpart across town, Southside has not had a major renovation since it was built in 1980.
Morris said, “We don’t let what we don’t have stand in the way of what we can do. We utilize what we have.”
Often, said Morris, students are able to launch into small-scale renovations and projects at the school that feed into the vision for Southside.
But there is only so much that students can do, even with the help of the professionals who are their teachers.
Last week, Morris gave members of the district’s local planning committee a tour, showing them everything from an area for welding to an area for robotics. He’s hoping that the group of school officials, parents and community leaders setting four-year priorities will keep a proposed renovation on the district’s facilities plan. The proposed Southside renovation, estimated at more than $7.2 million in 2013, includes eight new classrooms, and upgrades that would include air-conditioned labs for the 500-plus students.
The committee is considering several other proposals and will make a decision in the next few months. Committee members will start writing the plan in October, and after a series of needed approvals, including from the Fayette County school board, the Kentucky Board of Education will likely vote on Fayette’s plan in February.
Southside is open to students in Fayette, Woodford, Scott and Jessamine counties and offers electrical technology, advanced manufacturing, and medical sciences which teaches foundational medical skills and the certification course for pre-nursing. The school also has classes in math, language arts, welding, carpentry, construction, electronics and electrical technology.
The Fayette County Public Schools Local Planning committee will have a public forum for people who want to weigh in on school construction and renovation priorities for the next four years. It will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Beaumont Middle School, 2080 Georgian Way. There will be another public forum at 5:30 p..m. Sept. 28 at Henry Clay High School, 2100 Fontaine Drive.