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Ask SAM: Why can't the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools use one design for all its schools?

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Q: I saw that the Winston-Salem Forsyth County board of education approved $862,000 to pay an architect to design a new school. Why can’t the school system use an architectural plan already in place, rather than hire a firm and pay them $862,000?


Answer: SAM assumes you are talking about the new Ashley Elementary School. The school board last week approved an $862,000 contract under which Walter Robbs Architecture will design the school with input from the staff and community.

The reason the the district uses different plans for different schools is because schools are not exactly the same.

“Each time the district construction and planning team starts a project, it is different. The school’s needs are different, the location and land arrangements are different,” said Brent Campbell, the chief marketing and communications officer for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

“The regulatory requirements change frequently, and they are often different year to year. We also work to include community and individual school input in each design process. So, while it would be nice to reuse a previous design, even if we can reuse some elements, our teams still must hire an architect for professional services to confirm the design meets all the school’s programming needs, satisfies all current regulatory building requirements of a new facility, and to quality assure that the design is built in accordance with the design specifications.

“It is important to note that no two properties are the same, and how the facility sits on and is arranged on the land varies and impacts design. There are also things to consider when it comes to trees on the property, parking layout, sidewalks, neighboring roads, entrances/exits, and other infrastructure elements.

“Even in incidents where we have used the similar plans such as Atkins High School and Reagan High School or East Forsyth Middle and Flat Rock Middle for example, the architectural work and plans are still different for all those reasons mentioned above.

“All projects are unique and require a professional architect to complete,” Campbell said.

Q: I have a lot of greeting cards that I want to give away. It seems like a waste to put them in the recycling, but I’m not sure what else to do with them. Is there a group or organization that will take greeting cards?


Answer: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Nevada accepts the fronts of cards for its recycled cards program, though it is unable to accept Hallmark, American Greetings and Disney cards because of copyright laws.

Send the cards to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005.

They also accept new cards (any occasion) with or without the envelopes.

They ask that people not send cards promoting other charitable organizations.

They do not have any cards available for purchase at this time.

For more information go to or call 702-294-7100.

Volunteers needed for seated in-home movement sessionsSenior Services needs volunteers to participate in a study (IM-PROVment) doing seated dance movements with older adults in their homes. Sessions will be three times a week for four weeks.

Volunteers will receive training on how to conduct the sessions. This is an opportunity for in-home socialization with older adults.

For more information, contact Britnee Tellez at 336-721-3411 or go to


Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101


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