Under Construction: A New High School, a World of Career Options

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Despite rain and challenging weather conditions over the past few weeks, JE Dunn Construction gave 73 freshmen engineering students from Jenkins High School a site-tour introduction to managing a construction project from the ground up — in this instance, a brand new Jenkins High to replace the existing school facility built in the 1950s.  This was an especially exciting experience for students who will soon be walking the hallways and continuing their high school experience at the newly constructed school.

JE Dunn is the construction manager for the $57.8 million project for Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools, delivering a 239,000-square-foot, two-story instructional building on the existing 40-acre Jenkins campus, as well as new facilities for track and field, baseball, football, softball, tennis, and a field house, plus site work and demolition of existing structures.

“The students had really good questions,” said Project Engineer Reanna Coggins. They were curious about windscreens, safety measures and budgeting, among other elements. They also had questions about amenities of their new facility.

Coggins and Project Engineer Drew Arrington spearheaded JE Dunn’s participation in Jenkins’ observance of National Engineers Week (E-Week), raising public awareness of engineering careers and technical education.

“I always love communicating to students the construction-related opportunities, including areas they’re not necessarily thinking about, or may not even know about,” Coggins said.

During a classroom discussion preceding the tour, Coggins and Arrington explained their distinct roles with the project and laid out how engineering, architecture, and a multitude of construction trades, vendors and suppliers — all career possibilities — fit into the picture.   Students learned that construction, like many other industries, requires mastery of teamwork, critical thinking, problems solving, communication and other soft skills.

“It was so amazing, really fabulous,” said Jenkins High engineering technology teacher Carolyn Perry, Ed.D. “The care and concern they showed made an impression on the students. They are impressionable and looking to figure out their careers and their pathways.”

The opportunity to view building components up close, to don hard hats and other safety gear, to broaden their awareness of construction-related fields, and to learn that both Arrington and Coggins had come from outside the area to study construction management at nearby Georgia Southern University — all registered positively with the students, Perry said.

The new Jenkins High School will support a full STEM curriculum and will serve 1,375 students.

Project completion is scheduled for summer 2021.

The architect of record is Hussey Gay Bell.