Ground has been broken for the strongest testament to date of Southern Hillsborough County’s breakneck growth as High School UUU takes shape in Wimauma just south of Sun City Center Boulevard off West Lake Drive.
The school, whose official name is yet to be decided, is set to meet both the massive growth of Wimauma, a historic, mostly rural community not too many years back, and to relieve overcrowding at Earl J. Lennard High School in Ruskin and Jule F. Sumner High School in the Balm/Riverview area.
When Sumner opened in 2020, it was the largest school in the Hillsborough County School District, by some reports now the nation’s eighth-largest school district. But that wasn’t enough, as the $75 million, 238,268-square-foot Sumner, built to accommodate 2,905 students, quickly needed more space. A 25-classroom wing opened in January 2023 as Sumner’s enrollment continued to grow, surpassing 3,800 students by the end of the 2022-23 school year, according to then-principal Rob Nelson.
In contrast, the $176 million, multibuilding, 359,000-square-foot High School UUU campus, slated to open in time for the start of the 2025-26 school year, is set to accommodate 3,428 students at the outset. Situated on a nearly 100-acre greenfield site, the land in due time is set to house both a new elementary school and a new middle school.
At the August 3 groundbreaking ceremony, the focus was on High School UUU, taking root adjacent to Southshore Bay by Metro Places, one of the many new subdivisions and multibuilding, multistory apartment complexes taking shape in and around Wimauma and the Balm/Riverview area of Southern Hillsborough County.
“Welcome to the groundbreaking of what is surely going to be more than a high school,” said Van Ayres, Hillsborough’s newly appointed interim superintendent, who noted that as a “state-of-the-art center point” in the community, High School UUU will accommodate families “moving into this area in enormous numbers.”
“We are here to accommodate them with the best education, best opportunities, best advancement and best technology possible,” Ayres said.
The same team that built Sumner is at work on High School UUU. Harvard Jolly PBK, a full-service architectural firm specializing in educational design, joins with Beck/Envision, responsible for construction management.
High School UUU is set to house a 2-story media center, a 2-story gymnasium (with seating for 3,400) and a 973-seat theater/auditorium, with an orchestra pit. Additional highlights include an automotive lab; a culinary lab; JROTC labs; digital, 2-D and 3-D art labs; and a lab for EA Sports, a division of Electronic Arts that develops and publishes sports video games.
Plans call for 142 classrooms and a synthetic turf, multisport playing field and stadium set to seat 3,500 attendees. Also on tap will be a practice football field, a softball field (with seating for 300), a baseball field and press box (with seating for 505), track-and-field facilities and basketball and tennis courts. Site enhancements include five retention ponds, a driver’s education practice lot, eight electric-vehicle charging stations and parking spots for students (548), staff (189) and visitors (42).
For site renderings and more on Hillsborough County Public Schools, visit www.hillsboroughschools.org.