Students headed back to a new school

High-tech amenities and innovative learning environments are part of the state-of-the-art Mount Tahoma High School.

The brand new Mount Tahoma High School is so nice students might actually look forward to going back to school next month.

“It is truly a state-of-the-art high school. It is a great, great building,” said Bryon Bahr, athletic director, who led a 90-minute tour of the campus. “It’s a great thing for Tacoma.”

The sprawling 300,000-square-foot, $78.8 million school sits on 55 acres of land at 4634 South 74th St. in Tacoma.

The school’s unconventional design, which does feature several traditional elements, is intended to foster better teaching and a sense of belonging.

The 1,800-student Mount Tahoma High School features two, two-story general curriculum wings that provide personalized learning environments.

Each of the two wings features 10 general purpose classrooms, two resource classrooms, one special needs classroom, a staff planning room and restrooms.

There are a total of 93 classrooms, with computers in each one. Every student will have an “electronic locker,” explained Bahr, where he or she can download, send and save homework.

“You can’t say the dog ate it or you left it in your locker,” Bahr quipped to several students who were along for the tour. “There’s really no excuse.”

Each wing also features a computer lab and laptop computers.

While there is a definite high-tech feel to the school, more traditional elements have not been neglected.

Perhaps the most traditional elements of the design can be found in the building’s exterior, with durable brick, concrete masonry and metal siding.

Another traditional element – with a twist – at Mount Tahoma High School are the lockers.

“One thing you’re not going to see in the hallways is lockers,” Bahr said, explaining there are 1,800 lockers situated in bays throughout the school, located off to the side.

Many parts of the building make use of natural light, which students, teachers and staff will no doubt appreciate during those grey fall and winter days here in the Pacific Northwest.

Other amenities include:

– An open commons area with tables to seat 700 students at a time for lunch.

– A 400-seat theater that includes an orchestral pit. “The sound in here is awesome,” Bahr observed. Two adjacent rotating rooms allow for a maximum capacity of 600 people. “That’s a really neat feature,” he said.

– A library/media center designed to house 20,000 books.

– A weight room.

– A main gymnasium that seats 2,500 people, as well as an auxiliary gym that has a batting cage that can be lowered from the ceiling, so baseball and softball players can practice their swing even on rainy days.

– A 25-yard competition swimming pool in a natatorium.

– Six tennis courts.

– A competition baseball field, a competition softball field, as well as several practice fields.

– A 3,500-seat stadium with a synthetic field that can be used for football games and soccer matches. A 400-meter, 8-lane synthetic track rings the field. Portable seating allows for a maximum seating capacity of 5,000 people.

Tours of the new Mount Tahoma High School are being offered through the end of the month as follows: 10 a.m. on Monday, 4 p.m. on Tuesday and 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

If you would like to take a tour or get more information, call 571-3800 Monday through Thursday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Classes begin Sept. 2.

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