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Pods concept designed to make kids more comfortable, foster learning.
by David Leone
ROLESVILLE — The first day at Wake County’s newest high school operated like clockwork, according to Principal Ericka Lucas.
By Day 2, the front office at Rolesville High School (RHS) was quiet — students knew where to go. Part of that is due to Lucas’ administrative experience at several other schools.
“The first day went so smooth. The kids were awesome,” she said. “Everybody did their jobs. It went great.”
The other reason is simple math: The school opened with 632 freshmen and sophomores, about a quarter of its capacity, and won’t reach full size of 2,300 students for another two years.
Rolesville was allotted 600 students, Lucas said, noting that she expects the figure to grow even higher in the coming weeks.
The $75 million, 349,000-square-foot structure is the county’s largest and most expensive school to date.
Lucas’ 10 years of experience working in middle schools is a benefit, considering RHS was designed around a pod concept.
The building is divided up into 16 different pods. The pods consist of five classrooms apiece. Students attending classes in the pods will see a lot of familiar faces on a daily basis. Classrooms open into common areas where students can do schoolwork. And there are four lunchrooms, one on each floor.
The goal is to spur collaboration and teamwork among students, Lucas said.
“The kids are actually going to love it,” she said. “It’s hands-on, project-based learning, getting to know other people from other classes. Two classes could collaborate together.”
The classrooms are stocked with the latest tech — there are interactive boards in every room and students have access to mini-laptop computers, response systems and iPads.
Student art gallery
There are 13 athletic teams students may join (fall sports are featured last week and this week in this newspaper’s Fall Sports Preview).
The Rolesville Rams play in the Greater Neuse River Conference, which includes Clayton, Garner, East Wake, Harnett Central, Knightdale, Smithfied-Selma, Southeast Raleigh and West Johnston high schools.
Bands — concert, marching, jazz orchestra and various ensembles — are being formed under the direction of Lester Turner, who has more than 10 years experience. The Marching Rams will perform at the JV football games. And a fall concert is planned.
The choral program director is Emily Turner, a professional dancer and singer with six years experience teaching high school chorus. Additional choral and theater classes will be added next school year.
And Advanced Placement classes will expand with the school. AP environmental science is now offered to sophomores.
The school’s visual arts department is already looking for locations for student artwork to be displayed — on its website at rolesvillevisualarts.net, the old town hall building at Young and Main streets is named as a future student-run gallery.
One of the first things Lucas has planned are introductory assemblies for each grade to let the students know what she expects of them.
“I’m enjoying it already. I’m really excited and I know the kids have been excited as well,” she added.
The school is located at 1099 E. Young St. Visitors coming from the west should pass by the Quarry Road entrance and take the next left. The winding drive takes you to the carpool lane and parking lot.
The front office is through the main doors on the left.
See rolesvillehs.com for school information.