PHOTO: Williamson County Schools Deputy Superintendent Jason Golden speaks at the STEM building ribbon cutting as Brentwood High Principal Kevin Keidel looks on Wednesday afternoon. / Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
As government officials, education leaders and other invited guests began their tours of the new STEM building on the Brentwood High School campus, Chris Hentz stood to the side smiling with pride.
He has been a part of the $10 million project since it began nearly two years ago, doing whatever it took to ensure stakeholders would celebrate the building’s completion, as they did Wednesday afternoon with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Hentz was part of the progress on a near daily basis, doing a little bit of everything.
“If something needed to be done, I was sent to go do it,” said Hentz, a temporary labor subcontractor who worked on the project with the building’s contractor, R.G. Anderson Company Inc.
“Actually, this is the first ribbon cutting I’ve been to with all the schools I’ve done, and it was nice to see the actual ceremony and hear all the compliments. It does look nice after a long time working on it — a lot of hot days, a lot of cold days. We spent a lot of time and effort.”
It shows, as guests who attended the ribbon cutting would attest. Hosted by Brentwood High Principal Kevin Keidel, the ceremony also featured Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, Williamson County Schools Deputy Superintendent Jason Golden, WCS school board member Nancy Garrett and County Commissioner Tommy Little.
Noticeably absent was WCS Superintendent Mike Looney, who is likely departing to assume a similar job with Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. The development was revealed Wednesday morning, just a couple of hours or so before the STEM ceremony was to be held.
The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) building, which is divided with a west side and east side to serve both Brentwood Middle and High School students, is the first building in the WCS district designated for STEM studies and also the first to serve both middle and high school students. The 64,000-square-foot facility contains 33 classrooms and labs, a multipurpose area, and plenty of elbow room.
“This brings our total campus capacity up to 3,500 students,” Golden explained. “This is one of the rare times we’ve been able to build so that we can grow into it. We still actually have capacity when this building was built. That doesn’t always happen here with as much growth as we have.”
The STEM building was made possible through a partnership between Williamson County and the city of Brentwood.
“It is gratifying to know that in Williamson County we always have put public education number one and we’ll continue to do that,” Anderson said. “It’s a testimony of our leadership all across the county, of the people that are moving here, the businesses that want to participate and the families that want to settle here and send their children to public schools.”
Brentwood High Assistant Principal Oceana Sheehan has a vested interest in the new building, which is where she’ll be stationed when the next school year begins. She’s a graduate of Brentwood High and has been an employee there for the past four years, so she has kept an eager eye on the progress.
“It’s beautiful,” Sheehan said. “I’m so excited for the kids. They’re going to have a beautiful facility to work in, and it’s something to be really proud of for the community.”