PORT TOWNSEND — Peninsula College students, faculty and community members gathered Monday for a firsthand look at the upgrades they can now enjoy thanks to the school’s newly renovated Port Townsend location.
The $6 million renovation of Building 202 at Fort Worden broke ground last year and was a significant upgrade from the college’s previous location in the old school building, also located at Fort Worden, according to officials.
The redone 14,000-square-foot space provides more classrooms, faculty offices and student spaces than the previous location. There was also a significant investment by the college in new technology.
Each of the seven classrooms has 24 laptops for students to check out and use during class.
Classrooms also are equipped with “smart classroom” features such as presentation monitors, and a few have interactive televisions that allow students from the Port Townsend campus to participate in classes at other Peninsula College campuses.
Peninsula College’s main campus is in Port Angeles and it has a location in Forks.
“In our last location, there were two shared technology carts for everyone,” said Anna Green, the director of the Port Townsend campus, during the building’s grand opening Monday.
Two of the classrooms are dedicated to specific subjects — one for art and another for science.
There also is a space for staff offices.
According to Green, the Port Townsend campus usually has about eight instructors each semester, but with the new space there are nine instructors teaching this semester.
“This is the first time we’ve had a dedicated space for staff,” said Green.
There are six desk spaces available in the new office area.
Some are reserved for full-time staff and others will simply provide a space for part-time instructors to meet with students and prep for classes.
Students also have more space for studying and socializing.
There is a large lounge area on the first floor where students enter the building and another, smaller student lounge on the second floor — complete with a sink, microwave and, soon, vending machines.
There also are private study areas and a learning center with eight desktops and 30 laptops, all for student use.
“We didn’t have this kind of space before,” Green said. “We had eight computers total and no study space or really any space for students to socialize.”
Many of these upgrades were made possible due to the installation of an elevator in Building 202, which was originally built in 1904 and remodeled in the 1960s.
An elevator allowed for the use of the second floor, increasing the usable space for classrooms and student spaces.
The new building has been a collaborative effort between the college, the city of Port Townsend and the Fort Worden Public Development Authority.
“I’ve always been told Port Townsend reminds people of a college town without a college,” said City Manager David Timmons in his speech at the grand opening. “Now we have the college.”
According to Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson, the college is one of many education projects the city has backed, including the new Grant Street School.
“The city has been fostering an education environment as one of our goals,” Stinson said. “It’s not something we can provide directly but something we can support.”
She said backing education and health-care projects is a good way to better the community and bring in more people.
“If you have robust health care and robust education, you get a more robust economy,” Stinson said.
“We hope that this college can get people to participate directly with the industries we have here.”
According to Green, the Port Townsend campus offers a variety of classes and degrees including an associates degree and a degree in early education using the interactive TV to connect with classes in Port Angeles.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.