- Belton ISD
Lake Belton High School Built for 21st Century Learning
Principal Jill Ross has been waiting for the day when builders will hand her the keys to Lake Belton High School.
The wait is almost over.
Ross expects to be given full access to the building, Belton ISD’s second comprehensive high school, in the next few weeks. The campus is scheduled to open with ninth- and tenth-grade students on Aug. 19.
“I know my teachers and staff are ready to get in and get settled,” Ross said. “I’m also dying to start offering tours to incoming students and their families.”
The school, with a $106 million price tag, is funded by a $149.7 million bond program voters approved in May 2017 to build two new campuses and complete projects at current facilities - all aimed at addressing continued growth the district faces. By the time the first class graduates from LBHS in 2023, the district expects to have about 4,200 high school students. LBHS will have capacity for about 2,500.
Ross beamed with pride when she recently took school board members on a tour of the modern campus. The 394,000-square-foot facility has a collegiate feel with its collaboration spaces, cafe, technology charging stations, floor-to-ceiling windows and modern features and furnishings.
“Our goal with this high school was to create a 21st Century learning environment,” Ross said. “Collaboration is a big part of that.”
The classrooms, for example, have desks that are easy to reconfigure to encourage collaboration. The hallways are spacious with areas designated for group work. Whiteboards adorn hallway walls. Extra large labs - or “super labs” as Ross called them - provide space for multiple classes to work together on lab projects.
Wings of the building are designated as “learning communities” grouped by similar academic subjects. Each neighborhood includes 15 classrooms and a teacher workspace called a “Think Tank.”
“Teachers won’t have their own room, per se, like you traditionally see in schools,” Ross said. “They’ll teach in various rooms and their home base - where they have a desk -
will be in the Think Tank. This model makes it easier for teachers to collaborate for the benefit of students.”
At the library, students will find soft seating tucked among the shelves holding 19,000 books. Meeting rooms line the perimeter. The atmosphere, Ross said, will be similar to a Barnes & Noble.
“It’s truly the heart of the campus the way it’s designed,” she said. “The goal is to connect kids with the books.”
Adjoining the library is the Digital Learning Center, where Ross envisions hosting guest speakers in addition to providing access to technology.
Extracurriculars are a huge part of the high school experience, Ross said. She’s extra proud of the attention to detail given to the wings designated for these activities.
“Look at the floor in the dance studio,” she said. “It’s a basketball court so when they’re practicing their routines they know where their marks are.”
Music practice rooms for individuals and ensembles line the hallway. By the art rooms, hooks hang on walls ready to display student work. A 600-seat auditorium awaits student thespians.
Athletes will also be impressed by their amenities, Ross said.
Sports are also housed together, including basketball and volleyball locker rooms right off the courts. Two gigantic weigh rooms - one with an amazing view overlooking the football field - plus turf on the baseball and softball fields are other bragging points.
Career and technical education classes have a wing on the lower level of the building, including a fully functional prep kitchen for culinary arts students.
The words “pride,” “community” and “trust” are displayed prominently on the wall of the cafeteria commons area. They echo sentiments Ross has worked the last year to build in the Bronco community.
“This building, this new school, gives West Temple an identity in Belton ISD,” she said.
And with the real possibility of students and teachers not being able to physically be together for the start of the 2020-2021 school year because of COVID-19, Ross is quick to point out that the new school is much greater than its location.
“The social studies definition of a ‘place’ is that it’s not a physical location,” she said. “It’s an identity. This building represents all of that. But the Bronco family is more than a space. We’re building a legacy.”
View more photos of the Board Tour on June 17, 2020.