Honoring a Healthcare Icon

Henrietta Lacks Health & Bioscience High School


LSW and Evergreen Public Schools staff worked with dedicated community health partners at PeaceHealth, Legacy, Providence, Kaiser, Clark College, and WSU-Vancouver to design the 69,000 SF high school adjacent to the PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. 

Through a curriculum focused on bioscience and healthcare, the goal of Henrietta Lacks High School (commonly referred to as HeLa High) is to prepare local students for high-demand, essential jobs in the medical industry. Students attending HeLa High have learning opportunities in nursing, health informatics, biomedical engineering, pharmaceuticals, bio-tech and advanced biology or chemistry.

Key Stats


Evergreen Public Schools


Vancouver, WA

Total Square Footage

69,000 SF

Completion Date



Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School is the first public institution named after the healthcare icon. It’s noted on the school’s website, that the “Evergreen School Board and a group of students chose the name Henrietta Lacks after a student on the committee had read the book, 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' and was struck by the powerful nature the story of Henrietta and its implications for Science and Ethics. HeLa continues to honor Henrietta and live her story by educating all students at HeLa of her story, reading the text and studying the historical impact that she and her cells have had on our world.”

looking at the stairs and lobby area


One of the major goals of HeLa High was to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students, resulting in a number of unique spaces and elements. The building’s layout was created to support all of the programs, as well as their natural relationship to one another in the medical world. 

For example, the nursing suite was designed to provide simulated opportunities to work with “real” patients. Training can be recorded and viewed by the teaching staff from an adjacent control room where they can regulate the situations occurring in each patient room. Working in conjunction with the nursing suite, students in the pharmacy program can gain experience distributing probable prescriptions and responding to other call needs to their fictional patients.

Computer monitoring in the fitness room provides integrated learning opportunities for students interested in health education. In addition to a technology-based resource room, Wi-Fi is accessible throughout the school to facilitate student research of the healthcare industry.  As students and teachers gain knowledge of how education impacts the healthcare industry, the programs offered at HeLa High School will evolve to fit changing needs based on research.

A large open science room at HeLe Highschool.
A large desk and tables and chairs
HeLa Science Classroom

Community Partnerships

For HeLa High School to truly prepare students for postsecondary education and future careers, it was vital that the school’s curriculum be generated with the help of medical professionals.  To accomplish this, Evergreen Public Schools conducted a number of community outreach symposiums and established unique partnerships with PeaceHealth, Legacy, Providence, Kaiser Permanente, Clark College, WSU-Vancouver and private practitioners.

Through these partnerships:

  • Students benefit from an educational curriculum based on programs that are most useful to the community and that would provide them with the best chance of success in healthcare careers.

  • The district was able to obtain in-kind contributions of equipment and curriculum.

  • Students have access to mentoring from medical professionals.

  • The school was designed to foster after-school use by medical professionals and the community; for example, the Commons has its own exterior entrances and restrooms to allow users to remain separated from the rest of the school.

Medical Room at the school


The design for Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscienece High School meets the requirements for the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol (WSSP). In addition, it was important to staff and students to expand on these features in ways that enhance the user-experience. Below are a few examples that capture the school’s commitment to a sustainable program, as filtered through LSW’s own sustainability lens:

Energy Efficiency 

  • LED light fixtures were used on the site and designed to avoid light pollution extending beyond the site boundaries

  • High-efficiency boilers, radiant floor slabs, and sunshade devices on 100% of South facing windows result in energy savings

  • Supplemental electric lighting is on sensors and fluctuates depending on the amount of natural light present

  • Low emitting finishes are all specified to be at or below the allowed levels

  • An Energy Star-labeled white membrane roofing system reduces heat load

Embodied Carbon

  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures are used, resulting in a 30% reduction of water use

  • 90% of construction waste was recycled

  • 40% of the total project value contains recycled material

  • 20% of the building materials were manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the project site

Human Health 

  • 100% of the critical visual spaces and direct line of vision from over 90% of critical task areas are flooded by daylighting and views

Resource Conservation 

  • 100% of the stormwater is treated onsite using biofiltration swales

  • Drought-tolerant plants are used, limiting irrigation water by 50%

  • FSC certified wood was used for 50% of the cost of wood-based materials and products

The new Outdoor area with trees and sitting area
Building Walkway
Back side of the school building with Basketball hoops