Originally created 06/09/99

New school has familiar look



If you've ever been inside of Columbia County's Greenbrier High School, you might think you're seeing double when you enter Richmond County's new Cross Creek High School.

They used the same design and architects, but Richmond County officials asked Greenbrier personnel what they would have done differently.

Richmond County officials used Greenbrier's recommendations to build a larger cafeteria, put larger doors between the mall-size hallways and add more electrical outlets.

On Tuesday, Richmond County trustees and administrators toured Cross Creek for the first time.

Though construction workers are still working to meet the early July deadline, most of the classrooms are complete.

"The tour is to basically let you know it's ready to occupy," Deputy Superintendent Gene Sullivan told board member Eloise Curtis as they walked the halls. "This is our first big test."

Contractors said they will finish the school by July 4.

"This will give us a month to move in. We've never had that luxury," Mr. Sullivan said, adding that missed deadlines at other Richmond County schools caused staff to move in the day before the buildings opened.

Touring the school was deja vu for Mr. Sullivan, who was principal of Greenbrier when it opened in 1996.

"The reason it's a clone of Greenbrier, is it gave us a six- to eight month head start because we didn't have to redesign," Mr. Sullivan said.

The school, on Old Waynesboro Road, was built to relieve overcrowding at Butler and Hephzibah high schools. About 1,800 students are expected to attend.

Lynn Warr, principal of Cross Creek, worked closely with Augusta architects Hughes & Beattie. She chose colors for the five instructional wings and all of the furniture.

"It's fantastic," she said of the new school. "I've been out here just about every other day."

The outside of the $18 million, 205,000-square-foot school is built with two-tone brown bricks. Officials say it is the largest school in the Augusta area.

The open space is one of the most noticeable inside features.

The auditorium looks like a movie theater. There is enough room on the stage for a major production and the white plastic chairs can seat 606 people.

The cosmetology room is comparable to a full salon. It has five sinks for students and a sink in the center of another room for the instructor. It also has a laundry room, plenty of outlets, mirrors and cabinet space.

The school has a horticulture room, with space for a greenhouse outside. An auto-mechanic shop and economics room also are on the 98-acre site, as well as closed-circuit television cameras, covered by black domes, in hallway ceilings.

The school makes Ms. Curtis want to come out of retirement.

"I love it," Ms. Curtis said. "I wish they'd had it when I was teaching. I hope the teachers and students really enjoy it."

Mrs. Warr said students are excited about having their own lockers, only two lunches -- compared to three and four at Butler and Hephzibah high schools -- and not having to use portable classrooms during rainy weather.

"The $18 million was well spent," Superintendent Charles Larke said.

The school's $3.2 million outdoor facility -- which will a 6,000-seat stadium, three lighted tennis courts, lighted softball courts, baseball fields and an eight-lane track -- is expected to open by Aug. 14.

Faith Johnson covers education. She can be reached at (706) 823-3765 or faithj@augustachronicle.com.