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Fruitport designs new $48M high school with places to hide from mass shooters

Fruitport's $48M high school includes curved hallways and half walls to protect students, teachers, and staff.

FRUITPORT, Mich — As students in the Fruitport School District prepare to go back to school on Sept. 3 construction workers are busy finishing portions of a major construction that will be used by students this school year.

When completed, the new $48 million new Fruitport High School will include renovations to the existing building and major new sections.

The work is part of a bond voters approved in 2016. The entire project is expected to finish in 2021.

"Our contractors are making tremendous progress," said Fruitport Superintendent Bob Szymoniak.

The design of the new sections includes subtle safe spaces that can be used to protect students in the event of a shooting, and long curved hallways that would offer protection too.

"To cut down on the sight lines if we have an active shooter in the building," Szymoniak said.

By reducing the sight lines anyone with malicious intent would be unable to see the entire length of the hallway.

Cement block bump outs are also placed in the curved hallways.

"To cut down on sight lines further, it also gives an opportunity for students to hide back behind and hopefully get help from within the classroom," Szymoniak said.

Inside the classrooms students can hide in one corner that can't be seen from the hallway. Access controlled locks on all of the doors in our school district give school leaders the ability to lock down the entire district with the push of one button. And impact resistant film will go on all classroom windows in the new high school.

Szymoniak says by adding layers of safety it will buy students, teachers and staff time and it will protect lives as police respond to the scene.

"These are going to be design elements that are just naturally part of buildings going into the future," he said.

Because of all the construction this school year the district is expecting to encounter parking challenges. And for a time, high school students won't have lockers.

Szymoniak says in the end the final product will be worth any temporary inconveniences. "This building will be the safest, most secure building in the state of Michigan when it opens," he said. "Our ask is that our community be very understanding, keep the eyes on the prize because when our high school is done it's going be magnificent."

A community open house is being planned for October. A special event will be held in December to mark the opening of all the new classrooms. 

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