A group of Firestone High School juniors are hoping that current and future members of their school community will build on the past as they move forward and transition into a new building.

To help make that happen, they have documented the school’s history — via videotaped oral histories, PowerPoint slide shows and presentation boards — as part of a college writing course. The project will become part of the school library’s permanent collection, when the new $83 million, 378,000-square-foot, three-story Firestone/Litchfield building opens this fall.

“In the future, there will be new students and teachers who know nothing about the history of Firestone or the building we are currently in,” said Theresa Stafford, 16. “This project will give them a chance to look back and see where we came from and improve upon it.”

The project will be on display at the current building, 333 Rampart Ave., during a farewell tour 6-8 p.m. Friday. The building is scheduled to be razed this summer.

As community members walk through the building, Akron Public Schools officials are challenged with deciding which of the eight remaining projects being considered in an overall $800 million school construction program will actually be completed. The construction project is funded in part by voters who approved a 0.25 percent increase to the city income tax in 2003, with the state paying 59 percent toward construction and renovations of school district buildings.

The eight schools on the list for consideration are Bettes, Firestone Park and Pfeiffer elementary schools; Roswell Kent Middle School; Miller South School of the Visual and Performing Arts; and Garfield, Kenmore and North high schools.

When it comes to high schools, it is likely that only one more can be funded by the state, which recently projected the balance of the district’s high school enrollment at 1,264.

“The state won’t fund us to build more buildings than we need. Square footage is going to have to correspond with enrollment,” said APS Superintendent David James. “We have to downsize and will have to look at the best option for a building plan for the remaining 1,264 kids. The thinking of the school board is that all of our students should be in a new or newer building.”

While no decisions have been made on how to proceed, James said some options include constructing smaller buildings, reconfiguring the district to consolidate existing schools and placing students at buildings that are not filled to capacity.

The new Firestone/Litchfield Community Learning Center is located on the same property, with the Litchfield Middle School entrance off Fairfax Road and the Firestone High School entrance off Castle Boulevard. The schools are listed as Nos. 30 and 31 on the master plan. Harris Community Learning Center is under construction. Construction at Case Community Learning Center is scheduled to begin in July, and early site work is planned at Ellet Community Learning Center in September with construction to begin in spring 2017.

The original districtwide construction plan included building and renovating 58 district-owned buildings. Because of declining enrollment, the plan now includes 42 buildings. Construction at two high schools — East and Buchtel, which both are seventh through 12th-grade buildings — has been completed.

“We have had the community involved in the design of each building to find out what elements they wanted to see included,” James said. “Each building is unique, relative to the programs that are offered.”

At Firestone, the community wanted to make sure the design included the proper space and features for its International Baccalaureate Program, its performing arts program and its pre-engineering program, Project Lead the Way.

To that end, the new building includes a wing dedicated to the Akron School of Arts. The wing includes a three-story, 720-seat gallery style theater; a dance studio; dressing rooms with lighted mirrors; an orchestra room; an instrumental music room; and a vocal music room.

The Project Lead the Way area has a designated space for a computer lab, a cutting room and assembly area.

Renovations on the natatorium and auxiliary gym, which take up 40,000 square feet, are expected to be completed by October.

John P. Peterson, project manager with Glaus, Pyle, Schomer, Burns & DeHaven Inc., said the green building design will qualify for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Theresa Stafford and her classmate, Janely Carswell, said they are excited about the new building but hope the school’s heritage is not lost. They are hoping their project will help.

“In researching the history of Firestone, I discovered that it has always included people of different backgrounds and that over the years, that diversity has expanded,” said Janely, 16. “I’m looking forward to having a new space and a fresh start with a new building, but I hope we remember to continue the tradition of working together to make our community even better.”

Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com. She can be followed at www.twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.