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story.lead_photo.caption Bryant Junior High School Principal Jason Hay stands in a main hallway that connects several features of the new building. Hay expects to welcome about 500 visitors to the facility from 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 1 for a Community Expo and Campus Tours. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

— Saline County residents will have a chance to satisfy their curiosity about the new Bryant Junior High School campus — now ready for the coming school year — when the school’s doors open to the public for a Community Expo and Campus Tours from 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 1.

All visitors will enter through the junior high’s front doors, then be directed to the cafeteria, where they will be treated to free food samples, then take a guided tour through the new school.

The junior high school, which will house eighth- and ninth-graders, sits upon what was formerly raw land, home to fowl and other wildlife, next to the new Bryant Fire Station and training facility. Devin Sherrill, director of communications for the Bryant School District, said the school is so new that the district decided to host a big event to acquaint students, families and curious residents with the school’s changes.

“This is a big public event where the community can preview the new junior high school,” she said.

In fact, the Community Expo is the only event of its kind for the general public to view this structure. Event promoters expect 500-plus to be in attendance at the event.

In the center of the 252,000-square-foot facility is a spacious cafeteria, which will host two lunchtimes and 10 food-line options when it opens for the school year. The new cafeteria’s multivaried seating includes group and single seating for students.

Before or after a jaunt through the classrooms and hallways, visitors will have an opportunity to stop by the cafeteria, where Bryant School District food-service professionals will give out free samples that reflect the type of fare and selections the students will eat through the school year, Sherrill said.

The $47.6-million school has 79 classrooms and 29 labs/specialty areas, including science, business/career education and family consumer sciences spaces; music rehearsal spaces; and other multiuse areas, including a black box theater.

The two-story media center features a computer lab. Athletic spaces include a 1,200-seat gym with a stage, four practice courts and 10 locker rooms. A second-floor art room will double as a student gallery.

Bryant Junior High School Principal Jason Hay said that with the new building, eighth- and ninth-graders will have more leadership opportunities.

EXPO EXPERIENCE

Seventy business, nonprofit and service vendors are expected to attend the Expo.

“The Expo provides a unique opportunity for Bryant families to learn about the wide range of services and organizations that make up our community,” Sherrill said.

Guests can visit vendor stations in the school’s gym before or after they begin a tour.

“The event is designed to increase awareness about youth-oriented services, activities, programs and other family-friendly opportunities available in the Bryant area,” Sherrill said.

Bryant Junior High School Principal Jason Hay said he’s optimistic about the Expo event and — even more so — the coming school year.

STYLINGS

The new school has a stylish interior with clean lines, lots of glass for an open feeling, natural finishes and tilework, and a modern exterior. Dark wood cabinets and shelving are a highlight in the library and science lab.

The deep “Bryant blue,” the district’s color, is incorporated into spaces throughout the building, including floor-to-ceiling blue-glass-panel endcaps and displays.

Hay said the school’s overall aesthetic should reignite students’ zest for learning.

“Like coaches say, ‘When you look good, you play good.’ And I feel the same applies at our school,” said Hay, a former coach.

In the band room, which features floor-length windows with a view of a green space, student musicians will discover an environment that’s acoustically sound with insulated ceiling panels with inverted pyramids for some tonal edge.

SECURITY

Administrators and teachers will control access to the school, with one point of entry and exit for the building. When visitors arrive, they will have to go through two sets of doors that open to the front office, Sherrill said, and all exterior and classroom doors are equipped with electronic swipe cards.

Hay emphasized the new safety features of the self-contained school building.

“The security system is top of the line, and there is only one way in, one way out for all schoolgoers: through the front doors,” he said.

Other areas with built-in safety features are the science labs. These areas have movable work stations, as well as fume hoods for student protection during experiments.

According to Baldwin & Shell, the building contractor, the new facility is the second-largest junior high in the state of Arkansas, Sherrill said.

“We are excited to open the doors to the brand new Bryant Junior High School,” she said. “Come on out and enjoy it!”

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