As officials gear up to open the Dublin City School District's newest building in August, community members are getting an opportunity to be part of the building's interior-design planning. The Emerald Campus, 5175 Emerald Parkway, will serve as a place for juniors and seniors to go for part of their day for career-exploration programs.

The district's career-exploration academies include the areas of biomedical research, business, teaching, engineering, information technology and college and career readiness.

A committee of about 50 individuals comprised of students, parents, staff and community members are helping come up with interior design ideas, said Kristy Venne, Emerald Campus director.

Students in grades 6-12 form about half of the committee, Venne said.

Three groups within the committee are focused on floors, walls and signs; furniture; and history and art, Venne said.

Those focused on history and art are tasked with finding a way to incorporate the history of Dublin into the building's atrium, which spans four floors.

"We're trying to use that space in a really modern and beautiful way to tell the story of Dublin City Schools," Venne said.

District staff formed the team to start the design process with empathy, Venne said.

"To hear all voices is very important" when designing space for many students, she said.

At the end of the month, the groups will make their recommendations to the district, Venne said.

Hopefully by early March, the district will determine which items to order for furniture, and other items, she said.

The four-story structure has about 120,000 square feet of floor space and a cafeteria, district officials said.

In the fall, students will begin using the first two floors of the building, Venne said.

Next year, the district will begin refurbishing the third floor and design a fab lab - a makers space including technology and wood working equipment, Venne said.

The lab will be available to the community during evenings, weekends and summer months.

The district has allocated about $9 million to renovate the building, Superintendent Todd Hoadley said, but won't spend that all on the first wave of renovations.

In the fall, six programs will be offered at the building, he said.

The district plans to add two or three new programs the following year, and two or three more the year after that.

The Bridge programs, including Power Plus and West Bridge will be located in the building, as will the College Credit Plus program, said Doug Baker, district spokesman.

Although her son John is still too young to participate in the district's high school academies, Sara Hallermann said her foray into the preparation at Emerald Campus began when Hoadley invited her to participate in the interviews for Venne's role.

That interview process helped her learn more about the vision for the facility and motivated her to get involved with the interior design committee, Hallermann said.

Hallermann said she and her son John, who is a 12-year-old sixth grader at Willard Grizzell Middle School, have been helping determine what type of furniture to use in the building.

Cole Harris, an 18-year-old senior at Dublin Jerome High School, said his internship experiences with architecture have helped give him the experience necessary to participate with the design group.

Harris is part of the Dublin Business Academy at Jerome that will move to the Emerald Campus in the fall. He said he's helping to plan signs, flooring and the flow of people throughout the building at the Emerald Parkway building.

He said said he wanted to leave a legacy by participating in the interior design planning.

"I thought it would be cool to be part of that," he said.

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