HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County Public Schools has found a new and creative use for the former Highland Springs High School building on Oak Avenue.

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, workers put the finishing touches on the district’s first community school hub called the “The Oak Avenue Complex.”

Susan Moore, the director of facilities with Henrico County Public Schools, said The Oak will be repurposed to house three programs.

Henrico Schools’ Families and Community Engagement (FACE) program will use the main entry and the central portion of the building to offer several programs to students and school community members.

The program’s services will be available in the afternoons and evenings. Some of the programs will offer healthcare, mental health and dental services. They’ll also offer GED classes and a food pantry.

The Achievable Dream Certified Academy is another program where middle and high schoolers will participate in smaller classes.

The Oak Avenue Complex will take on 6th and 7th graders, and then will eventually expand to other grades.

“Their model is a smaller class,” Moore said. “It works very well for an older building like this that may not be designed to more current-day educational standards.” Moore added that the building could fit about 1,080 students.

The temporary program is the Career and Technical Education (CTE). Students will take some classes at The Oak as their permanent space is undergoing renovations, Moore said. Once they leave, that space could be offered to other programs.

“The game plan was to always repurpose this building,” Moore said. “As we were going through our new school design and construction, vision leadership began to look at what are the ways that we can repurpose or use this building for a good educational as well as community use.” 

Highland Springs High School students moved out of the former building last year and settled into the new high school about a quarter mile away.

Since the new Highland Springs High School was outfitted with new furniture, Moore said they sifted through old furniture when students moved out. “It was a lot of stuff to come out of this building,” she said.

The long-established school was built in 1952. Since then, there’ve been some expansions and a renovation back in the early 2000s.

“There have been multiple additions to this building over the years,” Moore said, adding that they’ve been using their own in-house tradesmen to do work around the building.

She said a partnership with the Henrico County Jail also allowed inmates to help paint. Supply-chain issues delayed some materials and equipment from getting to the site, she added. However, workers continued painting the walls and swapping out ceiling tiles on Tuesday. 

Teachers have begun setting up their classrooms, and three rooms were converted into offices for the Achievable Dream program. 

Moore said they’ll have two security vestibules near the FACE and Achievable Dream program areas. They’re updating security cameras and are building dividing walls between the two programs. The project received some money from the Esser grant for the FACE program.

Moore said they used nearly $500,000 to repurpose part of the building. The improvements are almost complete — workers still have to do some carpeting and cleanup before welcoming the Achievable Dream and CTE students into the classroom on Monday.