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Take a peek inside the Dawson County College and Career Academy construction site
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Superintendent Damon Gibbs and Director of Facilities and Maintenance Scott Morgan survey the engineering lab inside the College and Career Academy. - Photo by Jessica Taylor

The corner of Hwy. 53 and Perimeter Road looks drastically different than it did last May.

Just a little more than one year after the Dawson County College and Career Academy was announced by Dawson County Schools, the facility’s construction is almost complete, with it opening to students for the 2019-20 school year.

“We’re on track and we anticipate getting the building [open] first of July,” Superintendent Damon Gibbs said.

The 35,000-square-foot, two-story facility will house the high school’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) programs as well as classrooms set aside for dual enrollment opportunities.

“One of the things that we did and one of the things that we did even with the Performing Arts Center, teachers that were going to be impacted by this facility had an input in the design, so the architect had a preliminary design and met with every single teacher,” Gibbs said. “We made several changes to this building based on the feedback we got.”

Inside the building is a full size industrial kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a multipurpose meeting room that will be used in similar fashion as the Professional Development Center on Main Street, a health sciences lab with a built-in patient room, sinks and hospital beds, and an expansive video broadcasting studio accounting for half of the second story space.

Also included are labs for construction and engineering programs, early childhood education, business and marketing as well as outdoor work areas.

A canopy will expand from the high school’s main building to the college and career academy so that students will have coverage from rain and heat.

Students will enter the building through a side door that opens up to a hallway and stairwell where they will have access to all of the facility’s classrooms and labs.

“The dilemma when we build facilities today is securing the environment but making sure we have easy enough access for our kids,” Gibbs said.

Visitors, however, will enter through the main entrance and sign in at a front office in a process that mirrors the main high school campus. Doors leading to the student areas front the front office are key carded so that no unauthorized person can gain access.

Construction will continue into summer with the pavement of the parking lot and finishing inside touches.

The Dawson County College and Career Academy will open to students for the 2019-20 school year in August.