Live from Berryville, It’s the School Construction Site!

As construction of the new high school continues at a blazing pace Clarke County residents will soon be able to monitor progress 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the internet. On Monday night the Clarke County School Board approved funding for the purchase of a new “Weather Bug” station that includes a high quality video camera that will beam real-time video from the site to viewers around the globe.

Photo by Bonnie Jacobs

Clarke County Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy told the School Board that the district’s long term plans, championed repeatedly by instructor Ed Novak, include the installation of a Weather Bug weather station at the new high school. Accordingly Superintendent Murphy applied for and received a $2,000 Safe Schools Grant for a Weather Bug station.

The new Weather Bug station will cost the school system $14,720 after deduction of the $2,000 grant.

Progress continues at school construction site – Photo courtesy Urban Engineering

In addition to live video of current weather conditions, the Weather Bug also includes a “lightning package” which will alert school officials when lightning is present near school facilities. The lightning notification feature will allow school officials to move outdoor activities, especially sporting events and practices, inside and away from danger when dangerous weather are in the area.

“Imagine being able to better protect our community from lightning, determine the weather at the new high school site anytime you want, save $2,000 in the process, and watch the new high school being built on a daily basis” Dr. Murphy said. “Sounds like a win-win for our Division and community.”

Although the actual weather station will not be installed until the new school is completed, Murphy proposed that the grant money be used to purchase the new Weather Bug equipment before the grant’s expiration on December 31, 2010.

“The station can be installed on a Shockey construction trailer now then moved to the new high school as it is nearing completion without voiding its warranty, and be value added both now and in the future” Murphy said.

Clarke County School Board chairman Robina Bouffault is working with Shockey to determine the feasibility of installation of the Weather Bug. The equipment requires a 110 volt power source, a secure place to mount and install the camera, access to the hardware for telecommunications cabling and, of course, permission from Shockey Construction.

An exact installation date for the new camera was not immediately available.

Newly poured building slab – Photo courtesy Urban Engineering

Boom pours concrete for building slab – Photo courtesy Urban Engineering

Construction and blasting work is still occurring at the site’s storm water management pond – Photo courtesy Urban Engineering

Installation of roof drain – Photo courtesy Urban Engineering


  1. Where are the track and sports fields going to be?

    • How many times are you going to ask the same question that’s been answered already?

      • I’ve never asked or seen anybody else ask this question. I guess I don’t live on this site and let the “new school” occupy my life. Just looking at the pictures aroused my curiosity.

        Do you have anything more constructive to add?

    • Fact Checker says:

      They are going to be where they have always been.

    • Look in Bonnie’s aerial photo, upper left. 🙂

      A better question: Where’s the bridge over Rt 7, the tunnel under, the crossing guard, or the extra-special traffic signal?

  2. Fly Swatter says:

    While interesting…Am I the only one who thinks this is a waste of money?

    • I believe this is a waste of money. There are places in this world where there are no schools, or a one room school with a dirt floor. The current school is luxurious to many in this county. The building will not change the administration,faculty, the students or the parents.

      • The current school is not big enough for the current population. What don’t you understand?

        • They all fit don’t they? Is class being held on the field?

          • berryville says:

            If you were a student then you would know that we don’t all fit. The hallways are unbelievably crowded. People are an inch away from you on all sides, often you come to a dead stop because so many people are going in all different directions, there are not enough lockers. And the trailers have a lot of mold,and leak. There are only 9 girls toilets in the whole school. Mice run around. Yeah I’d say we need a new school.

        • Guess you can call me a true conservative.

          • Tony Parrott says:

            I wouldn’t call you a true conservative; so please stop giving conservatives a bad name.

      • Fly on the wall says:

        OK…now you’re just being cranky verging on silly. 760 students in 1 room? Really? We’re not talkin the “Taj Mahal” of schools here, nor are we talkin one even on the level of Millbrook or Washington (just north on 340 in WV). We’re talkin a barely-adequate middle school design into which a high school program has been shoehorned.

      • Travis Goodwin says:

        Really? You’re fine with Clarke’s students enduring too few restrooms, a cafeteria served by seriously outdated kitchen equipment, cramped classrooms that barely accommodate overloaded classes, narrow hallways with pitifully small lockers, and a plethora of old trailers. You’re not conservative; you’re unrealistic.

        • yes, completely fine with it. Have you seen some of the schools in this country/world?

          You are totally exagerating the situation at the current school. Let’s stop trying to raise a spoiled generation where everything has to be perfect.

          With proper planning, the current facility could have been upgraded and added on to.

          And enough $ left over to raise teacher salaries considerably.

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Have you been in the building? During class change during the day?

            “Proper planning” went out the door when the initial budget went from $8 million to $6 million 23 years ago. All sizes within the building – hall dimiensions, classroom sq. ft., etc. – were scaled down more on an elementary school level. The footers of the building, initially designed to support a 2nd story expansion, were redone to only accommodate the structure you see now. The restrooms are not truly sufficient for for the #s of adult-sized students in that building. The halls are laid out in such a way that there are myriad blind spots; the new cameras help mitigate this. The fact that there are so many old trailers in use there is yet another indication that the initial plan is substandard.

            it’s not about “raising a spoiled generation where everything has to be perfect.” It’s about this community – the entire community – having some pride in the facilities it provides to educate its children. Yes, poorer places make do with far inferior facilities, but why – when we can get it right – should we settle for anything less? I’m not talkin about a “Mercedes” level school, but I’d hope to see something better than the “Pinto” we currently have.

          • Jeremy Carter says:


            My friend..I agree with you on raising teacher salaries…Really I do.

            However, I have no idea when you may have walked the halls of CCHS…rather ever, or recently. I graduated in 1998…At that time STILL…we walked shoulder to shoulder, and could barely get through the school during class changes. When it was built…it was built too small. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

            The fact that it was that way in ’98…..and the addition of the 27 trailers outside of the building, tells you very clearly that this is/was the case. The school simply is not, or was ever big enough to uphold in a growing county such as Clarke.

            While a new school is CERTAINLY needed….however, once again, it’s slated to be ‘too small’. I sent several emails back and forth with one of the current SB members about 2 years ago when the plans first came out for how ‘big’ the school was to be. She ‘assured’ me that they were making the right decision…..b/c the school would house 1,000 kids, and the growth of CC was not a factor, b/c there weren’t that many extra people coming into Clarke. Clearly, and still, she did not get it.

            There were 760 or some odd folks when I went to school there. I don’t know what the current number of students are there right now…but I can promise you it isn’t LESS than that….nor will it ever be.

            It’s not about ‘spoiling’ kids…it’s about being practical. Adding on the the existing school should never have been considered in the first place. It wasn’t possible the way it lays out right now…and it wouldn’t be effective.

          • Sounds like we should keep the trailers, cuz in about 5 years the new school will be too small as well.

          • Jeremy Carter says:

            I def. agree as well…they should keep ’em handy…b/c they’ll sure need them!!

          • Should just bite the bullet and build an new elementary school. That way they could send 9th and 10th graders to the old high school and 11th and 12th graders to the new school

          • Done once around here, when Frederick County opened the new Ridge Campus of old James Wood. One problem was truly real: Transportation costs and hassles became cumbersome as there was a significant number of students enrolled in a class at the other campus. A lesser issue was that some teachers also had to move between buildings. Eventually the wags described the scenario as the Castle on the Hill vs. the mere mortals.

            Comes down to paying to transport or paying to duplicate.

            Some counties in WV have gone to separate 9th grade facilities, but I don’t think I’ve seen any such awfulness in the Commonwealth.

          • I’ve seen configurations where the 9th grade stays at the middle school and 10-12 go to the high school

            Could the middle school (old high school) handle three grades to relieve the burden on the new school?

          • The current middle school model in VA is to house grades 6, 7, and 8 in the same building. Adding the 9th grade to that mix is not so good, imho.

            There is a different bottom line here, with respect to teaching and learning. Space is a key commodity. Cram too many kids into a classroom that’s too small and active learning is difficult to maintain. Problem is, the first thing that is cut when budgets are tight is the total square footage.

          • Fly on the wall says:

            There’s no plan to bring 9th grade back to J-WMS. Where would they go? Trailers would have to be put in place out on the lawn outside the Band Room off of Swan Avenue. What you’re referencing was voted down several years ago.

            The “800 students” the new CCHS is being designed for includes all 4 grades.

          • Could always paint the rooms lime green to promote active learning, huh Mr Specht:)

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Loudoun County did it, not too long ago. Fairfax has Grades 7-12 facilities; the current CCHS principal’s old school in Fairfax, where he was an AP, serves some 4,700 kids every day.

            J-WMS is not that far under its own capacity. Bringing a whole ‘nuther grade down there would overload it, or just shift trailers from one site to another, which would wipe out the rec football and soccer practice areas on the J-WMS lawn.

          • And Paw Paw, WV, houses k-12. [and they graduate about a dozen kids each year]. I firmly believe that you can have 7-12 or even k-12 groupings, but the sheer size of a student body that you describe is daunting, or worse. The one great shock I had about 14 years ago was leaving Clarke to teach at Sherando. Every day I would turn a corner and see a kid or two I’d never met.

            I also agree about JWMS being at capacity. The renovation was well done, so what ain’t broke ought not to be fixed.

            Lastly, I have always felt that the front lawn of old CCHS was a diamond in the rough for Berryville. My view of it from old Room 1 was superb!

          • livein22611 says:

            Actually, there are less than 730 students right now. Careful what you promise.

      • Jim,
        There are places in this world where there is no internet, no other technology to speak of, where children run naked, contracting diseases to which Americans developed vaccines decades ago.
        I assume you have a >5 year-old computer, clothe your children beyond what is “barely necessary”, and have a family healthy.
        You share in the same luxuries as most of us – we are all guilty of living at and beyond our means and needs. I wish you wouldn’t be so quick to pass judgement and label a BADLY needed education/construction project as frivolous.

      • wheredoyoulive? says:

        HAHAHAHA. Yeah, you obviously don’t have a child in the high school or you’re a really uninvolved parent if you just called the school ‘luxurious.’ There are a ridiculous amount of trailers, (I’d like to see you teach or learn in one all day)and a few of them are condemned and rotting. The lockers were thrown on top of the walls, making less hall space for an overcrowded student population. Classes are held in the cafeteria. Last time I checked, that wasn’t a classroom.
        An art classroom is NOT an English classroom! That dingy closet of a space is NOT a weight room! Concert Band room/Choir room/Jazz Band room/Percussion Ensemble Room/Music Theory room/Guitar room… It doesn’t take a genius…

  3. By ‘this’ I’m assuming that you are referring to the new hs.

    No, the construction of a new hs is not a waste. Not building it for 1000 students is wasteful.

  4. Is there a gym planned, or will the students walk down the road for that too?

    • Travis Goodwin says:

      Seriously? Have you not kept up at all?

      There will be one gym that will accommodate 1,000 people. It will be seperated along one 2′-thick wall from the auditorium, which will seat 680 people.

      The athletes for football, soccer, baseball, softball, and track will continue to use the facilities at the current CCHS: the locker rooms, Feltner Stadiu, Singhas Field, and Grubbs Field.

  5. They’ll be switching between the gym at Cooley and the CC Rec center. The courtyard is slated to be a future gym, but for now, a beautiful Italian marble water fountain will adorn the space.

    • Okay, can somebody weigh in that knows what’s going on?

      • Debacle Watcher says:

        No outdoor playing fields or practice fields are planned for the new HS campus. The ones at the old HS will be used. I think they needed the weather bug more.

        There is a large gym included in the new HS plans.

        • Travis Goodwin says:

          WeatherBug is part of the Science classes, and a very useful system. The money is coming from the equipment budget for the new school – which, don’t forget, was enhanced by a $60,000 gift from the very generous Kummli family. The snarks need to give it a rest.

  6. Fly Swatter says:

    “The station can be installed on a Shockey construction trailer now then moved to the new high school as it is nearing completion without voiding its warranty”

    – If it gets struck by lightening is the system covered under warranty?
    – Any chance we could stream the football game Friday night?

    • John Pine says:

      They won’t have to remove the trailer by the time the school is finished they will need some trailers so they can just leave the one with the weather bug. This will save the money it would have taken to move it.

      First the SB cries poor and now they are able to spend money freely. I am not saying the weather bug is a bad thing but our teachers are the lowest paid in the region how are we supposed to keep them around.

      • Donna Carper McDonald says:

        My goodness. What will we think of next? I would think if a Weather Bug station should need installed in this town and/or county it should be installed in some of our known drug dealer areas. I believe a better use for the money could have been found.

  7. Dmaxnjackson says:

    glad to see that I am not the only one who thinks this H.S is a joke. I said it before, let a bunch of 5th graders be in charge of designing, get funding and everthing else, and this school would be open already.

  8. Can anyone tell me, without snapping or biting my head off because I dont have the time to read this all day every day and know all the ins and outs: Is the current design of the new high school such that it could be expanded easily in the future, if need be? I am just wondering if our illustrious board had the forethought to prevent a similar situation in the future that we have now. Another tidbit to keep in mind…..three or four years after this school is functioning, quite likely the current board members will be long gone (as far as serving). Then, the current board can point fingers and blame others….sounds kinda familiar huh?

    CDN Editor: The current school design has an option for an additional eight classrooms. The Clarke County School Board is operating under the assumption that school enrollment will stay flat over the near term due to economic reasons. This year’s school enrollment is lower than expected and has resulted in a budget shortfall from the subsequent reduction in Commonwealth’s “per pupil” contribution to CCPS.

    • Fly on the wall says:

      Yes, the academic wing (the 2-story part nearest Rt 7 Business) is expandable by 8 classrooms, to accommodate 1,000 students. The common areas (gym, cafeteria) are designed for 1,000 people already. The new auditorium is designed for 680 people (370 permanent seats, 310 retractable seats in 2 sections in the back). As an FYI…the current CCHS population is around 760 students + 55 or so teachers and staff.

      • I can’t for the life of me figure out why you’d build an auditorium that wouldn’t seat the entire student body population.

        • Fly on the wall says:

          Because the PA middle school whose plans our SB purchased only has a population of around 580 in a facility designed for 800; thus, a 680-seat auditorium up there is sufficient. To make it bigger would cost more, and mean the plans they bought would need further modification.

          • Tammy Lanham says:

            Absolutely correct. And so sad, as our community really needed an adequate auditorium. At least some changes were made in the middle school design (addition of a dressing room which hopefully is adequate for use as a second music classroom during the school day, larger outside doors that access the hall that backs up to the stage for props…)

            I just hope the acoustics are truly going to work as the builders promised (a quiet auditorium right beside events going on in the gym). And that we don’t go to the lowest bidder for auditorium seats, curtains, sound board, lighting, and all those things that should be standard fare in any secondary school’s performance space. Heck, I hope we don’t end up with a shell of a room that has folding chairs in the back so the the space can be used for gym class and that the stage doesn’t have to double as a choral and drama classroom (this has actually been discussed in meetings!)

            We’ve scrimped and cut back for so long it seems like we’ve lost sight of the basic elements of a typical American high school (whether build 50 years ago or being built now)—- AND we’ve forgotten that we should at least find space for the successful course offerings and programs that currently exist and need space.

            Forget about arguing whether we need a school or not, let’s support what we’re getting as best we can- and be part of the process so it can be the best it can be!

    • Jeremy Carter says:


      Yes…it’s supposed to be ‘easily expandable’ as Fly said so that it could house 1,000 students.

      As for RW…I totally agree. I also can’t for the life of me, figure out why anyone would think the population of CC would stay stagnant for 5-10+ more years. The High School is not something that is a short term building…so why would it be thought that there will be no growth in the county due to the economy. This was my beef when I exchanged emails with that SB member that tried to say this. I just don’t understand why you’d build something, and not think at all for the future…..It’s the current HS…all over again. It’ll be almost full, if not fully full, when the doors swing open on day 1.

      And yes…how do you build something brand new like said auditorium…and it immediately doesn’t fit AT LEAST the population of the school itself? God forbid you try to have something that you would want MORE people to sit in for!