First Look into James Lawson High School

This coming year Hillwood will be transitioning into James Lawson High School with exciting designs.


The new and modern James Lawson High School that took over $123M to build, will be located in Bellevue and open for the Hillwood student body in August 2023. 

The new school was built on the lot previously occupied by Hope Park Church with a beautiful natural environment, providing new technology and a modern look that will serve for 1,600 students. 

The lead architect, Neil Parrish, designed the school to show the historical importance of that land.

“It was a place of movement and meeting; of industry and immense natural beauty. In that history, the design team found many similarities to the high school experience that we tried to draw on and build into the fabric of the new school,” said Parrish.

Additionally, there are many windows in this school’s design.

“There should be glass at the end of every hallway, so you’ll have natural light,” Dr Sheaffer said during the journalism class tour of James Lawson High School.

Parrish has given the lighting at this school much thought in order to create a positive impact on students’ mental health. The lighting in James Lawson won’t be fluorescent lights typically found in high schools. 

“I like the lights, they’re not big fixtures that we have now– and they dim. There will be natural light in every classroom and a new cleanliness that should give the teachers and students motivation,” Dr Sheaffer said.

Parrish hopes that staff and students coming from a very old school to a bright and clean environment should give everyone a more positive attitude about coming to school and promote motivation.                          

“We’ll be taking students from an old school and giving them everything they didn’t have in a new school…these students will be the ones to create an identity for the school environment to feel empowered, respected, and engaged,” Dr. Sheaffer said. 

The land made it difficult to create the bright and open school they planned on.

Building on the steep topography created numerous technical challenges for building and field placements while maintaining a commitment to natural light and access to outdoor spaces for all students,” Parrish said.

Hillwood students and parents have high expectations for James Lawson High School.

“I expect this school to be nice and I hope my peers can keep it nice,” said junior Alexis Martin.

Parent Melanie Thompson added, “I hope it creates a new outlook on school for these students.” 

James Lawson is only known as being new, but all the students that attend will be creating the “school spirit” and what people will overall think of the school.