It is the first new high school in Prince William County since Potomac opened in 1979. With its television production studio, planetarium and 98 modern classrooms, C.D. Hylton, opening this fall, will be the county's best-equipped educational facility.
"It is tremendously exciting. Every day I am meeting new people and there are new problems and solutions. A lot of things are happening," said Principal Wayne Mallard, who was assistant principal at Woodbridge High School last year.
A lot is happening at the $25.5 million facility on Spriggs Road, which was named after the late Dale City developer Cecil D. Hylton, who donated land for the school. The building is in its final stages of construction and is designed to accommodate about 2,100 students. The school will open with ninth- and 10th-graders from a new attendance area that previously was appointed to Osbourn Park and Potomac high schools. Tenth-graders at Osbourn Park have until Jan. 31 to decide if they want to be part of the school's junior class.
The 269,000-square-foot building will house 98 standard classrooms and many high-tech amenities for traditional and vocational education.
In the media center, students will learn television and newspaper production. The television studio holds sophisticated cameras and video equipment in two electronic control rooms. Behind it is an electronic classroom where classes can be broadcast to any school in the state. (All high schools in Virginia have satellite dishes to receive transmission.)
The printing lab, with a darkroom, $100,000 in printing equipment and computers for page layout, is for instruction and the production of the school newspaper.
The vocational classrooms include an automotive lab, a home economics and cosmetology room and a child-care center, where students will receive hands-on experience.
Other classrooms include speech and drama labs with small amphitheaters; an animal-storage room; 11 science labs with adjacent preparation areas; and language, English, history, business and special education rooms. The central staircase is brightened by a skylight, which streams natural light into a nearby greenhouse.
The planetarium, with a floor projector, is the school system's first, and will hold 64 chairs that will tilt to view the ceiling screen.
A 1,000-seat auditorium has a stage and orchestra pit for school productions. The school's music groups have band rooms and six practice rooms. Lecture areas line the rear of the room.
Two dining areas open to the courtyard, with large planters and an amphitheater. The huge gymnasium seats 2,200 people and has sliding walls to separate it into three separate courts. An auxiliary gym and weight room are next to the main gym.
Outside, the football stadium has seating for 4,000 people. There also are two baseball fields, two softball fields, four practice fields, a track, 10 tennis courts and two asphalt basketball courts on the 75-acre site.
The Moseley Group, which is building the school and putting up a similar school in Bailey Bridge, Va., is expected to complete construction on schedule by July, project manager John Hryorchuk said.
More than 100 people have inquired about the 65 teacher and 45 staff positions, said Mallard, who has selected 14 of his 15 department heads. In the next two months Mallard will advertise the positions and begin interviewing candidates, he said. The selection process will begin this spring.
School policy limits the number of staff transfers from each county school. With all the phone calls Mallard has been getting, there will be plenty of applicants to choose from.
"There has been an overwhelming response," he said. "We do have some unique facilities and we have the advantage of starting from scratch" but it is just another indication of the county's commitment to education, he said.