Hello and welcome to the Inside Vancouver Public Schools podcast. I’m Superintendent Steve Webb.

This month is the start of a new year, a new decade and a new school for Vancouver iTech Preparatory.

On Jan. 6, for the first time since the school opened, students at iTech Prep all attended classes in the same location. Before, middle schoolers were located at the Jim Parsley Community Center. High schoolers were located to the north, in the Clark College building at Washington State University Vancouver. For the staff:

“We like to say that I-205 is our seven-mile hallway between the schools.”

That’s Principal Darby Meade, one of the staff members involved in planning the new building after local voters approved a bond measure in 2017. Parents, students, architects and community partners also participated.

The result is a three-story facility with 23 classrooms and six collaboration spaces. Here’s seventh-grader Olivia Droubay:

“We’re a tech school, so I think the tech parts are gonna be [fun]. I was looking through some of the science labs and they definitely look really fun to use.”

Now iTech also has room for up to 700 students, which means that the program can grow over time.

The new building is a reflection of the school in many ways. Here’s Darby again:

“We had the opportunity to identify our core values and what we believe. And create a building that embodied that.”

One of those values is collaboration:

“There’s a huge central space built around that core collaboration—us coming together and working together and solving problems is what we do. The building is created in that way. There’s a center area with collaboration spaces, with fabrication labs where people can come together and work and create and innovate. The building itself kind of inspires that idea.”

Students like sophomore Alex Rizzo are looking forward to the results:

“I think having all the teachers in one place will lead to interesting collaboration.”

An agreement with WSUV allowed the school to be built on the university’s campus. Construction workers hustled up to the last minute to open the school in time for students to return from winter break. Staff members from iTech, maintenance, the warehouse, ITS and planning all devoted their break to moving in and getting ready for the first day.

Here’s Alex again:

“I think it will be a good environment; I think it will be a fun time for all.”

Darby also is excited for the possibilities presented in the new building:

“Our program is at a point where we feel it’s running at a very high level and student learning is very strong, and this is going to blow the top off of that. It’s going to allow us to take it to the next level.”

My thanks to Darby and the iTech and VPS teams involved in the effort. I’m grateful for their work on the new school and for them dedicating their winter break to moving in. I’m also thankful to the community for supporting iTech students and staff through their endorsement of the bond measure in 2017.

The new iTech is one of many school construction projects happening across Vancouver, thanks to community bond dollars. To see what else is happening, go vansd.org/reschools. You’ll find the latest news on projects, and a schedule of what’s happening in your neighborhood school.

Thank you for tuning in. Until next time, take care.