Take exclusive tour of new D'Iberville High School

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The moment you walk into the spacious main lobby, you realize it's no ordinary school.

"Once you come to this area, you're into the FEMA shelter portion of the building," said Robin Weiss, the project's Construction Administrator.

The lobby and two academic wings at the new D'Iberville High School can be used as a storm shelter. Even the doors and windows are built to withstand 200-mile per hour winds.

"All the exterior walls have reinforced steel. There's concrete in every cell. They're 12-inch blocks so it just gives extra reinforcement to the entire structure," said Weiss.

During and after a storm, the campus is also designed to be self-sufficient with its own water well and tower, waste treatment facility, and emergency generator.

Other features make the two-story building unique. Check out the gym. The bleachers are retractable. There's even a third set for extra seating. And overhead curtains can come down to split up the gym, allowing up to four teams to practice at the same time.

The classrooms are also getting rave reviews from teachers.

"They can't wait to get in," said Weiss.

But it'll be awhile, before teachers and students can move in. Two many days of rain have forced the contractor to push back the opening date from the 20th of this month to February 20th of next year.

"We had 99 days built into the contract time expected for rain, we experienced 192 days," said Weiss.

"We are going to be done. The school's going to start moving in over Mardi Gras weekend," said Matthew Garlington, Project Manager for Roy Anderson Corp.

That means the senior class at D'Iberville High will get to graduate from this brand, new school in 2009.

The Harrison County School District is also building the new West Harrison High School. That school is scheduled to be finished in April of next year and construction is on schedule. Both schools cost about $71 million.