ANTIOCH -- Antioch High School is ready for its much-needed makeover.

Design work is underway for a new athletic stadium, administrative building and library at the school, the first part of a multiphase project to spruce up the well-worn 59-year-old campus.

"It's a pretty exciting time," Principal Louie Rocha said. "It's like being an expectant father and kind of making sure that the baby's room is ready and making all those adjustments."

Construction on those areas, along with work to modernize classrooms, will tentatively start once this school year is complete. The project's timeline, however, depends on when the design plan is approved by the state's oversight board for school construction.

When work is completed by the end of 2016, Antioch High will have reconfigured classrooms with upgraded technology, lighting and furniture that better suit the school's aim to create learning groups. Other features are a new library and media area, including a college and career center; a larger cafeteria that allows more students to eat comfortably and renovated sports facilities, including a new pool and locker rooms.

At the request of many in the community, efforts will be made to keep Antioch High's history alive in the design. Distinct characteristics such as the school's brick facade, large trees and plaques that line the sidewalk corridor and represent each graduated class will remain.

"It really is like a renaissance for this historic facility," said Rocha, recalling the tribulations of money-raising efforts the past few years to fix portions of the school such as the dirt track and swimming pool.

"People have seen the obvious need for years, but we didn't have the means," he said

A year ago, voters in the older part of the city approved paying an additional $50 in property tax each year for the renovation. More than 61 percent of voters supported Measure B, a $56.5 million school bond measure. The approval came after a similar measure failed by just 31 votes five months earlier.

Renderings of modernization project at Antioch High School, which will include a new athletic field, library, administrative building and modernization of
Renderings of modernization project at Antioch High School, which will include a new athletic field, library, administrative building and modernization of classrooms at the 59-year-old campus. Work could start as early as this spring, though likely once school is out for summer. (Antioch Unified School District)

Since that time, Oakland-based HKIT Architects has met with district and campus stakeholders taking suggestions and plugging away at plans that work for the community.

"They told me they've been blown away by the amount of interest," Rocha said.

"The modernization is not for Antioch High School, it's by Antioch High School. We're trying to make sure that we involve everybody," added Tim Forrester, associate superintendent of business services.

A unique part of Antioch High's reconstruction is that the suburban campus will become a learning tool for students. Over the past few years, Antioch Unified has pushed for high schoolers to learn through career-based experiences.

Students from Antioch High's engineering, environmental studies, media technology and public service academies will have a hand in some of the design, construction and public outreach of the school.

Teens sat in on the selection panel for the architects and had votes and say in the pick, Forrester said.

"From the outset, the district has stressed the importance of having a learning experience, and we believe that's important, too," said Rod Henmi, HKIT's director of design. "This is not something very common, to have this level of intensive student involvement."

Sophomores Lauren McCullough and Aimie McGoldrick of the environmental sciences academy, or ECO-CATS, were among the students who made presentations last week before the Antioch school board and Antioch Rotary about ways to make Antioch High's rebuild more environmentally sound.

Solar panels, low-flow toilets and natural lighting are among their suggestions.

"We've met with the architects and they seem pretty open to hearing our ideas. It's been pretty cool for us," McGoldrick said.

Her mother, Melanie, added: "It's been impressive to see them work, to come home and find them excited to look up the price of toilets and calling companies to ask questions."

Sophomores Megan Christie and Amanda Vistalli of the Leadership and Public Services Academy, or LAPS, addressed some of the safety issues that the renovation must address, including having doors that can lock from the inside.

"You can just see how excited the students are. It gives them a sense of pride," board President Joy Motts said.

"The focus of the pathways is on the three R's: rigor, relevance and relationships, and the relevance piece is big here," Rocha said. "To be able to see what they are learning and make that real-world connection, it's a win-win for everybody."

Antioch High officials are looking to host an forum for the community to see the plans and an update on the bond in the next couple of weeks.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.

Construction Schedule
Here is the latest schedule on when work is expected to be completed for the various stages of Antioch High, according to a presentation last week. The plans are subject to change, depending on approvals.
Athletic stadium
Design: Now through end of 2013
Approvals: Spring 2014
Construction: Summer to end of 2014
Administration/library building
Design: Now through May
Approvals: May to September 2014
Construction: September 2014 to August 2015
Cafeteria/student plaza
Design: April 2014 to January 2015
Approvals: January to May 2015
Construction: September 2015 to August 2016
Classroom modernization (done in four separate sets)
Design: Now through July 2015
Approvals: Two in mid- to late 2014, two in mid- to late-2015
Construction: First piece done by early 2015, last by end of 2016