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Durango High School’s Impact Career Development Center begins construction

New work-based learning environment is expected to be done by fall 2023
Members of Durango School District 9-R, Anderson Mason Dale Architects and Durango High School staff members participate in a groundbreaking celebration Monday for the Impact Career Development Center. (Tyler Brown/Durango Herald)

Construction for the Durango High School Impact Career Development Center officially broke ground in a ceremony Monday.

The $10 million project, funded through Bond 4A money, was originally set to finish in January 2024 but should be built by fall 2023, said Jeremiah Hayes, area manager with Jaynes Corp., a general contractor.

“Barring any major catastrophes, the foundation should be complete after Thanksgiving,” he said. “You’ll start to see steel go up right before Christmas, and right around Easter, we’ll have the walls and roof complete. And in May, we’ll turn the lights on.”

The building will feature the use of natural light through skylights. It will be two stories with a makerspace, breakout rooms and a pitch room upstairs. The bottom floor will include a common area, a cafe and rooms for students to collaborate.

Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Karen Cheser said the building will allow students to have real and authentic learning experiences. She said the school district studied other schools from around the country to develop the model for the work-based classroom environment.

“This is a place where we’re truly going to live out the Portrait of a Graduate,” Cheser said.

The goal was to create a professional work environment for students while they are still in high school. She hopes students will collaborate with each other. For example, culinary students may work with entrepreneurial students and engineering students may work with media arts students.

The building was designed to accommodate 14 different career in technical education pathways, said Cathy Bellem, an architect with Anderson Mason Dale Architects.

“It was a design challenge: How does this building serve all of these pathways? she said.

Former DHS student and Anderson Mason Dale intern Nick Huber was instrumental in conceptualizing the building around design thinking. Because of his success with the school’s career and technical education program, his input was heavily considered in the project.


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