HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Thousands of Horry County children be starting their first day of school in a new classroom.
At around $45 million each, all five of the new Horry County schools have top design and technical features, such as collaborative spaces, movable libraries and bright color schemes to create what the builders say is the best learning environment for students.
The Horry County Schools superintendent said design plans go back to 2014 and some principals had a say in the creation.
He said the five new schools are made similar to those in Houston that an Horry County Schools committee toured before picking a builder.
On Thursday, builder and architect Robbie Ferris took WMBF News on a tour of Ten Oaks Middle and Socastee Elementary schools.
He said wood was chosen as a main feature in the schools because it's known to give a warm and calming feeling.
Wood beams can be seen throughout the schools, as well as a collaboration space concept.
Ferris said the space helps diversify teaching styles. Other concepts hard to miss are the color schemes, bright furniture and South Carolina-style outwork.
"So they designed these buildings for students. Many other schools are not designed for students, they're designed for teachers," Ferris said. "They're designed so that the teacher's job is easy. That doesn't necessarily mean the students are getting the best education. In this case, the board of education and the staff put students first."
Then there is the abundance of glass.
Many of the front walls of classrooms are like a wall of clear glass windows. Both the builder and the HCS Superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey said the glass and all that natural light creates a better learning environment for students.
Maxey said research shows natural light improves learning for all ages. It was also used to save money.
Many rooms are well-lit without turning the lights on during the day. The builder and Maxey said the windows increase visibility inside the building and also give teachers better supervision.
However, all the windows and open spaces also bring safety concerns because of high visibility. Almost every classroom has a clear view inside.
In response, the builder said there's only one way in the school through a locked front door manned by the desk.
Maxey said every Horry County school has a new security plan in place this year. He added he's not worried about the windows in a bad way, and considers the overall design a success.
"It is aesthetically pleasing and I think that the structures, the colors, the fabrics, the layout, everything about the schools contributes to an environment conducive to learning," Maxey said. "So, I'm very proud of that."