Education

Look at Lexington’s new high school: 84 percent complete, students enrolling

Drone view of Frederick Douglass High School

See the new $81.5 million buildings, athletic fields, parking and more in this aerial view of Lexington's sixth high school, which is enrolling students now for its fall opening.
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See the new $81.5 million buildings, athletic fields, parking and more in this aerial view of Lexington's sixth high school, which is enrolling students now for its fall opening.

At least 769 students have enrolled at Fayette County’s new Frederick Douglass High School, set to open this fall, and school officials are preparing for more, principal Lester Diaz said.

Avery Fox, an eighth-grader at Crawford Middle School, has enrolled in the school’s first freshman class.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing experience getting to go into a new school and starting new traditions,” said Avery, 13, who has been chosen as a member of the cheerleading team at Douglass.

“Everybody’s new and we will be able to bond more,” Avery said. “I’m excited to go and be in a brand new building and ... start a new family.”

Interior photos at the $81.5 million school on Winchester Road, dated April 20 on the Fayette County Public Schools website, show the concrete being polished on the central “social” staircase, bleachers being installed in the main gym and carpet that has been installed in the media center.

Frederick Douglass will be the sixth general high school in the school district.

Myron Thompson, senior director of operations and support, said at the April 24 school board meeting that kitchen equipment installation was continuing. Thompson said then that construction was more than 84 percent complete.

Diaz said the project is on pace to be completed, and he mentioned several notable design features: “a ‘social’ staircase, two gyms, state-of-the-art theater area. We will have an upgraded camera system.”

The school board approved spending $408,470 for 109 more security cameras at the new school, in addition to 59 already budgeted. Every high school in Fayette County has about 150 security cameras, officials said.

Ultimately, the school could hold as many as 1,800 students.

Douglass will have academies in the school, Diaz said. Bryan Station and Tates Creek high schools also will have the academy system.

All ninth-grade students at Douglass will transition into high school by entering a freshman academy. Then, before the end of their freshman year, students will enter one of three career-themed academies: health sciences, professional services or technology.

The Academy of Professional Services includes classes on law, teaching and learning, entrepreneurship, and financial services.

“Frederick Douglass High School is built on the concept of small learning communities; in other words, we are designed to take a big school and break it down into smaller communities based on common themes or experiences,” said academy coach Shawn Hinds.

In the Freshman Academy, students will be part of a team of teachers and students. Freshman teachers will meet regularly to discuss students’ successes and address concerns with attendance, behavior, overall grades, and social or emotional concerns. They will work with students, families, administrators and counselors to increase achievement. Freshmen will be housed in their own wing of the building — leaving the wing only for electives and lunch. Hinds said that arrangement will lead to a smoother transition from middle school.

During freshman year, students will take a freshman seminar course, allowing them to explore career options.

The small learning communities, each housed in its own wing of the building, allow students with common career interests to work together.

Students in other grades also will enter one of the career academies.

Because students are in a small learning community, they will have the same teachers for multiple years who will be able to teach content through topics that engage students. Students in the Health Sciences Academy might be studying informational writing in English class by reviewing medical journals or trade magazines. They might be looking at data analysis during math class for research they are conducting in a professional services course, he said.

The smaller learning communities will ensure that no student “slips through the cracks,” Diaz said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

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