First inside look at Lexington’s newest high school

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)-Believe it or not, school in Fayette County starts in just under three weeks. With that comes a new milestone for the district, the opening of the county’s sixth public high school and for the first time Friday, journalists got a tour.

The sounds of construction will soon be replaced by the sounds Frederick Douglass High School’s hallways are built for, the sounds students make.

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Of all the preparation Principal Lester Diaz says, “My head is spinning. I haven’t slept and I absolutely love it!”

This is hard evidence of Lexington’s population growth. Douglass High was built in Hamburg to alleviate overcrowding in other Lexington high schools.

“When you have a smaller learning community within those large high schools, you can make authentic connections with students, develop positive relationships, and really impact the learning in a positive way,” Diaz said.

Douglass does that by dividing students into academies dedicated to subjects like health sciences and professional services.

“We want to create global citizens. We want to create a viable workforce for the local economy,” Diaz said.

The structure is built for that with locations for each academy, two gyms, an auditorium, art space, and a cafeteria with a place to come together called a social stair.

“This is what we anticipate will be the central hub, the central hangout area,” Diaz said of the stair.

It is not just a place where kids can hang out in person. There are also USB ports to keep students plugged in and connected. Part of that connection also comes in the school’s many library spaces, which are flexible by design.

“I can move it and wheel it and turn it and spin it,” Library/Media Specialist Kelli Reno said, showing off the easy to move bookshelves.

Reno says the modular library is all part of that mission to prepare students to be flexible, collaborative employees.

“Our goal is to put as few barriers between the students and what they want to do as possible,” Reno said.

Perhaps the biggest barrier removed is crowding, the one making all this possible for teachers and their students. Douglass’ principal says about 900 students are enrolled right now. Many of them will get an official first look inside their new home early next month, after the school’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!