A new building intended for the campus of Woodside High School will, if things go as planned, be the home of the new Green and Clean Academy, and a prominent example of environmental consciousness.
The ideal building would be "self-sufficient," Principal David Reilly said in an e-mail. The intended site is part of the southeast parking lot, next to a secluded grassy acre destined to become a garden with a small outdoor amphitheater/classroom and greenhouse.
The Green Academy will be a school-within-a-school focusing on green careers, particularly in energy and water conservation. This academy, like Woodside's Business Technology Academy, is a state program for students wanting to go to college and needing extra support. It is open to all, but requires that 50 percent of the enrollment be at-risk students.
Perhaps in the spirit of things, the Green Academy building would usurp part of fossil-fuel's domain -- a section of the parking lot.
"Students will have to earn the right to drive" to school, Mr. Reilly said. "It all fits. It's perfect. I'm sure I'll get complaints ... but Mother Nature will smile down upon us."
San Francisco's very green California Academy of Sciences building is an inspiration, he said, adding, "I want to put Woodside High School on the map as the greenest high school in the Bay Area."
In an interview in Mr. Reilly's office that included Vice-Principal Diane Mazzei and Green Academy social studies teacher Marin Aldrich, there was talk of wind- and solar-power, compost piles that generate usable heat, and a high rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The school is in very early talks with architect Bruce McClure of the Palo Alto firm Cody Anderson Wasney Architects, Mr. Reilly said. The academy enrolls its first class in September, but significant planning will wait until funding is assured, probably around August or September, Mr. McClure told The Almanac.
Woodside High has $3 million available from the $165 million construction bond measure that voters approved in February 2008, Mr. Reilly said. The school is also applying for a matching $3 million state grant from a fund reserved for school construction projects.
The building's green elements "uniquely position us to have a higher score" with the granting agency, Ms. Mazzei said.
Woodside is one of four comprehensive high schools in the Sequoia Union High School District. Asked for the district view of this project, Ms. Mazzei described the reaction as "very positive."
Also in the works at Woodside: another $6 million building, also relying on $3 million in state grants, that would house digital arts, including journalism, photography, music and video production, animation and Web-page design, Mr. Reilly said.
Build it and ...
They're coming and it isn't even built yet.
When the Green Academy opens in September, staff is expecting 56 sophomores, with a maximum of about 160 students when everything is up and running. But, Mr. Reilly said, one building may not be enough.
He said he sees the school trying to accommodate 300 to 400 students "itching" to get in. "This is like the Greenies Task Force on steroids," he added, referring to the campus club that promotes activities such as gardening, biking to school and using green products.
Staff interest, skills and experience are also crucial to creating something like this, Mr. Reilly said. "The interest from the ground level has to be there, and we have it," he said.
The Green Academy will have a variety of tasks, he said. The gardening tasks, for example, include labor and soil analysis, and the chance for kids of varying abilities to meet and talk.
There will be some tracking, particularly with math, Ms. Aldrich said, but students of mixed ability would gather for "one or two periods a day," including in English, social studies and career-pathway classes.
With the building sited next to and open to the garden, it could blur the lines between the classroom and the real world, Mr. Reilly said, adding, "I would love for this building to be as transparent as possible."