Troup High to get new biology laboratory

Published 8:00 pm Friday, May 19, 2017

LaGRANGE – Troup County schools are letting out on Wednesday, but even in the midst of finals, some teachers at Troup County Comprehensive High School are already excitedly making plans for biology lessons that would not have been possible in classrooms during this past year.

Troup High is expected to receive a series of renovations within the next year that when taken together, should improve the total high school experience of students for years to come. Those renovations will include a dedicated science building, which school board officials expect to be open late this year, cafeteria and patio updates that should be ready by the end of the summer and a new athletic facility to begin construction this fall.

“My biology teachers are already mapping out plans for labs for next year,” Principal Chip Medders said.

The current classrooms would have made it necessary for teachers to rearrange standard classrooms inside a trailer in order to perform labs, which has limited what kind of labs could take place due to time constraints. That layout would make it difficult for the school to continue to meet state standards for science classes that are becoming increasingly hands on.

“With the new standards for science and social studies, it really requires us to have a new lab, but not only that, this is the right thing to do to make sure that our students have the necessities for when you graduate – that they have those biology concepts when they graduate,” Director of Public Relations Yolanda Stephen said. “We need more space to provide that education experience.”

The plans was approved by the Georgia Department of Education before the Troup County Board of Education could take bids on contractors. The standards that were applied to the building’s plans have left school board officials confident in the quality experience that students will be able to experience in the new facility.

“This will give them a state of the art biology lab that is approved by the state,” Assistant Superintendent of Maintenance and Operations John Radcliffe said.  “We will get those in place and have new equipment and new furniture in there. It will be a whole different learning environment for the kids.”

A friendlier dining experience

The cafeteria and outdoor dining area at Troup High will also be receiving updates, and for the outdoor dining area it will be the first time that it has received any major renovations since its original construction.

“There are old trees out there that really need to come down and get out of there,” Radcliffe said.  “The concrete needs to be cleaned – we try to clean it every year – but as far as renovations, there haven’t been any (on the patio). It is very difficult to do them because the only way to get there is either through the building with equipment or over the top.”

The dining area will be about more than necessary updates to a courtyard that has received few updates for decades though.

“We are trying to get away from the normal cafeteria feel and create a casual dining space,” Medders said.

Medders expressed hopes that the casual dining style would serve to further foster the relationships built at the high school, which has been a major focus of his time as principal at Troup High especially in the past year when the school rallied around its #BelieveInTHS campaign.

Let’s play ball

The school board has previously announced plans to construct a new athletic facility at the high school to better serve the 500 to 600 Troup High students who take part in after school athletic programs each year.

Since Troup High School requires student athletes to keep their grades up, the administration is optimistic that the improved facilities will provide an additional incentive for students to do well in their classes.

“This is going to encourage more kids to play sports, and at the same time encourage academics,” Medders said of the facility.

School board officials likewise felt that the new athletic facility will help encourage students to come to school and remain engaged.

“Kids need a reason to come to school, and for some (kids) it is to come and learn, but for others it might be for athletics or drama or band or extracurricular activities of some kind, and that is the hook that keeps them in school,” Superintendent Cole Pugh said. “They are also learning at the same time, so it goes hand in hand.”

School system representatives held a pre-bid conference on Friday to answer questions from possible contractors, and the project could begin construction around the same time that school starts next year.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to bring something back to the (school) board in July or August to name a contractor, and then we’ll get started soon thereafter,” Radcliffe said.

In addition to the visible improvements, the school is also expected to have a new security system installed this summer, to better protect the faculty and students.

Medders expressed his gratitude to the school board for the investment that these improvements represent in the future of Troup County students, and his excitement for the great things that the school and its students will accomplish in coming years.

“To know that people think that highly of m­­aking these investments in our school makes it a joy coming into work every day,” Medders said.