Beyond the building, Rocktown High’s other features are emerging

Here’s how the shell of the new Rocktown High School looks from above. (Courtesy of the Harrisonburg City Public Schools)

By Haley Thomas, contributor

While students, teachers and parents are gearing up for the 2022-23 school year that starts this month, the city school board members spent part of Tuesday’s meeting looking ahead to Rocktown High School’s opening in fall 2024.

Craig Mackail, chief operations officer, presented the board with the latest glimpses of the construction’s progress, which isn’t just limited to the shell of the building. The grounds and athletic facilities are beginning to take shape, as well. 

A major step forward, he said, was the paving of East Kaylor Park Drive, as well as the addition of a multi-use path which will eventually connect to the city’s multi-use path.

Harrisonburg High School seniors are currently designing outdoor learning spaces to surround the pond shown in the bottom of the photo below.

The mixed-use pathl from the school ends at the property line but city leaders want to connect it to other paths. (Courtesy of the Harrisonburg City Public Schools)

Also under construction are tennis courts along the multi-use path. The latest progress includes light poles and steps leading from the building to the courts, Mackail said.

“You’ll get your cardio,” said board Vice Chair Deb Fitzgerald, who presided over the meeting in Chair Nick Swayne’s absence. Swayne is starting as the president of North Idaho College  this month and is expected to resign from the school board in the coming weeks, as The Citizen first reported July 17.

The steps will lead to where the athletic complex and stadium will be. (Photo courtesy of Harrisonburg City Public Schools)

The roof has been completed over Rocktown High’s gym and multipurpose room, as well as the back of the school. 

Meanwhile, Rocktown High’s athletic fields have undergone a transformation in recent weeks. For the baseball and softball fields, pads are poured for bleachers, concession stands are in and light poles are up.

The sites of the Rocktown High School’s future track, baseball field and softball field start to take shape. (Courtesy of the Harrisonburg City Public Schools)

The Rocktown High stadium is also taking shape.

Recent construction includes the field house, the outline for the track, concession stands, light poles and the drop-off loop for students. A set of stairs leading to the stadium has also been added. The builders will begin pouring pads for bleachers and laying the turf in the next couple of weeks, Mackail said. 

“Those are the things you want to get in when you have the time to do it so you’re not struggling to get those done at the end of the project or trying to rush it,” Mackail said. “We appreciate that.”

The beam from the topping off ceremony is already covered. (Photo courtesy of the Harrisonburg Public Schools)

Members of the community were invited to sign the last placed steel beam of Rocktown High at a “topping out” ceremony in May. Below is a photo of the once-visible beam — it has officially been enclosed.

“It is now gone, and you’ll never see it again,” Mackail said over a chorus of laughter from the board members. “That’s the end of it, but it’s there.” 

Inside the building reveals the framework of classrooms, collaborative learning spaces and the main staircase.

“Some studs are going in, some of the wood’s going in,” Mackail said. “We’ve even got door frames in some places.”

“Wow,” Fitzgerald said in response.

The framework of the new school’s interior is coming together. (Courtesy of the Harrisonburg City Public Schools)
While the framework is there, a lot of work awaits inside the building. (Photo courtesy of Harrisonburg City Public Schools)

The board smiled as Mackail scrolled through his recent photos of Rocktown High, but each member beamed with excitement as they saw the inside of the building coming to life for the first time.

Mackail said he encourages members of the community to contact him about taking a tour through Rocktown High. He said he would be “happy to take anybody” to show off the recent progress.


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