August 08, 2022

Babcock High School ready for inaugural school year

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

by Samantha Serbin
6:22 PM EDT, Fri August 05, 2022

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – Babcock Ranch High School is just days away from opening. Monday morning kids will be welcomed bright and early.

The school is designed for grades 6-12. However, the first senior class won’t walk through the doors until next year.

It’s a school unlike any other. From the moment you walk in, you can tell the design is different. It’s an open layout with lots of glass walls that make everything transparent. There’s traditional classrooms but also space for huddles, concentration, group projects and more.

“Where like in normal schools it’s you’re in a classroom and you can’t go anywhere else. We have collaboration spots and smaller class sizes, it’s so much easier,” incoming junior Larsen McLoon said.

She started school in Babcock Ranch in 2019, and says it was completely different than previous places of education. “When I came here, it was like they didn’t care about as much about what you did. It was how well you did it and how much you understood it rather than oh yeah you got the grade that’s it you’re done,” McLoon said.

Kitson & Partners chairman Syd Kitson said the design comes from one main concept. It’s the same concept that led to the location of the school: right in the center of the community.

“We wanted people to know that education is as important as anything we do, maybe more important than anything we do,” Kitson said. “I think young people learn better by doing rather than just sitting and listening.”

The trust in teachers is part of the reason Michelle Sandel loves teaching at Babcock.

“Everyone here really saw that what was working in other schools really isn’t working for education anymore,” Sandel said. “So we wanted to do something different and get our students working on developing problem solving skills.”

Sandel focuses mostly on the science department, but she’s also part of the make tank, a space for building and hands-on collaboration. Her passion shines through when you ask Sandel how she feels about students coming back on Monday.

“I can’t even contain it. I want to get into my room. I want to see my kids. I want to get them doing all the fun stuff we have planned for them this year,” she said.

Executive Director of Schools, Shannon Treece, has been involved with this project from the start. She even showed us the progress of construction back in January.

“We have definitely come a long way in a very short amount of time,” Treece said. “It is definitely not just brick walls and doors. The space was designed for a next generation learner.”

In addition to learning, a new field house will house both a cafeteria and gym for students.

That gym, doubling as a storm shelter in the case of a hurricane. The walls are 12 inches thick, and the shelter will be open to all of SWFL. Once all equipment is in place the building will be able to stand up to a category five storm.

Once school starts Monday, both the neighborhood school (K-5) and high school (6-12) will have approximately 400 students each.