WBRC Architects Engineers, in collaboration with Cuningham Group Architecture of Minnesota, is pleased to announce its recent selection for Phase 1 Design of Valley Unified Regional High School in Maine’s Upper St. John Valley.
This 9-16 facility will be the first of its kind in the State of Maine, a regional high school that will include integrated career technology and post-secondary education in one facility.
“This project represents an exciting new opportunity for education in Maine and will be a life-changing resource for Upper St. John Valley students,” says Ray Bolduc, WBRC’s Education Studio Director. “We are very honored to be selected and look forward to getting started.”
WBRC + Cuningham Group was one of five teams that submitted design qualifications in October 2018 and one of three interviewed in February 2019. Phase 1 of this project includes analysis of existing facilities and programs, site selection, and concept design.
WBRC Architects Engineers and Cuningham Group previously worked together on Hampden Academy, an award-winning high school in Hampden, Maine. WBRC has been a part of K-12 and higher education projects throughout Maine and has completed many projects in Aroostook County. Cuningham Group is nationally-recognized for its community-led, NEXT-Century design process and for designing high schools with integrated career education.
“This is an extraordinary educational opportunity for the communities of the Upper St. John Valley,” says Cuningham Group Principal Judith Hoskens. “We’ve had a great working relationship with WBRC and are confident that together we can successfully partner with Valley Unified to create a paradigm-changing experience that will prepare all learners for future success.”
Valley Unified Regional High School will enable and empower students to become both college- and career-ready on one integrated campus.
Valley Unified is the combination of three Maine school districts (MSAD 27, MSAD 33, and Madawaska School Department) with equal representation from each district. The districts joined to form Valley Unified Regional Service Center in 2017, applied for Maine DOE’s 9-16 school pilot project, and was selected as the top applicant in early 2018.
The required elements for the new 9-16 pilot project as listed on Maine Department of Education’s Part 2 funding application include:
- A regional high school
- A fully integrated career and technical education high school
- A higher education center that will provide courses and degrees or licensure and certification from both the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System; and
- Industry training leading to recognized licensure and certification.
The school will also implement an advisory body integrated with the local economy that includes students, citizens, business leaders, teachers, parents, and regional organizations.
While up to $100 million in state funding has been earmarked for this pilot project, the final cost of the facility will be determined by many factors, including its size, locations, design features, major systems, and construction bid climate. The WBRC + Cuningham Group team will work with Valley Unified’s building committee, the Maine DOE, and members of the community to create a school design that meets the educational objectives while staying within the state’s funding guidelines.
Throughout the planning process, Valley Unified’s decision-making has been inclusive and transparent. Valley Unified Board of Directors meetings are open to the public, take place in various locations throughout the region, and are televised on WOWL, Madawaska High School’s student-run TV station. The public is also kept informed with frequent updates on the group’s blog (Valleyunified.blogspot.com) and social media, as well as through coverage by local media.
“All of us on the project team are impressed by the foresight of Valley Unified’s leadership and applaud the State of Maine for its vision on launching this new educational model,” Bolduc says. “We look forward to continuing Valley Unified’s transparency and community engagement throughout the site selection and design process.”