NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Public Schools is asking for the community’s input on the future of one of its oldest schools — Booker T. Washington High School.

District leaders sat down with former alumni in the school’s cafeteria Thursday evening to hear what direction they’d like the school to take moving forward.

In addition to a number of building upgrades, district leaders wanted to hear the community’s thoughts on how to make BTWHS a strong institution for students and how to best prepare them for life after graduation.

The meeting comes in the middle of a feasibility study. In 2019, the Norfolk School Board passed a resolution to provide funding and shape the future of the 111-year-old school which also houses the Academy of the Arts.

“You are a part of the community and your voice is so very important to us,” said NPS Superintendent Sharon Byrdsong.

The district says the last time such a study took place was in 1974. During the district’s first of two community forums held at BTWHS, district leaders explained their plan to replace the roof, windows and HVAC system.

HBA Architecture is conducting the study.

HBA Architecture is also working with NPS to develop proposals for the future of Maury High School. Community meetings are also scheduled to decide the fate of this local high school.

“What changes might need to be made, how does that fit into the existing Booker T. Washington,” said Lauren Perry of HBA.

Those who attended the meeting were split into groups where they answered a series of questions about BTWHS’s greatest strengths, opportunities for improvement, what learning should look like and how to best prepare high school students.

“Make it so that when they come to Booker T. they have the mindset that they will succeed,” said one man who attended the meeting.

Another member of the community who spoke up talked about the importance of technology and keeping up with advancements.

“We had a current student at the table and she mentioned that it is a little bit lacking here,” said a woman who attended.

A third attendee stressed the importance of treating high school students like adults and teaching them to think for themselves.

District leaders collected community responses and will take them into consideration moving forward as the school is renovated and the academic structure revitalized.

A second community meeting is set to take place at Ruffner Middle School on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m.