Renovation project makes school more efficient, secure

From a central administration area to a new cafeteria set up, renovations in the high school continue to create more efficient schools for the students and staff.

The renovation project, which began last year and is set to wrap up in August, took nearly two years to plan after looking at how space could be better used, according to Michael Reed, high school principal.

“The committee looked at making some level of sustainability impact for all areas,” he said.

The first change to visitors is how they enter the building. Gone are the days of individuals roaming the halls going from administration space to administration space. Now all administrators principals, athletic department and guidance counselors are in one area in the front of the school.

A new nurses office also is across the hall from administrators.

Jeff Robbins, principal of alternative education, explained that the new area is a “one-stop shop.”

Reed explained that it allows for visitors of the school to find everyone they are looking for instead of visiting several different locations of the school to meet with administrators.

It also is an added security measure as visitors are not sent down hallways to find offices, as they enter through the area.

Taking the place of the previous location of administration offices are new classrooms. Two new science rooms and alternative education classes are some of the renovated rooms.

The other major change that the school community is taking advantage of is an updated dining experience. Previously having three separate cafeterias, each having its own serving area, the new area has one large serving area and two dining areas.

Instead of standing in line and having minimal options, the new serving area allows students to flow from option to option. Students may choose from a salad bar, sandwich station, pasta area and the main entree for the day. Reed explained that students now are able to go directly to what they would like to have for the day’s lunch without waiting more than 15 minutes to begin their meal.

“It’s more efficient and the kids love it,” Reed said.

And while only two of three cafeterias still are dining areas, the third will be transformed into a fitness center. Weight-lifting and cardio machines are set to be delivered in February for the center. Attached to the area will be a large athletic training office and locker rooms.

A new expanded health occupations area also is part of the project.

For the arts, a new black box theater and television studio were created. A new bandroom is in the works in the place of the previous black box theater, and a new orchestra room – which previously practiced in the auditorium – will move into the current bandroom.

With only a small addition needed for the project, Robbins called the work a “retasking of space,” rather than a makeover.

He and Reed explained that moving spaces to different areas in the school were done in order to make a more efficient operation of the school.

Reed said the layout of the school now is more “customer-friendly.”

And although the project has produced many improved areas for students and staff, Reed said a bulk of the work will not be noticed by those visiting the school.

Reed explained that electrical, lighting and climate updates are all fairly hidden but make all of the difference for the schools students and staff.

“The majority of the project people will never see,” he said.

“It’s stuff that students won’t see but they’ll feel,” Robbins said.

And while work is being done inside and outside of the building during the school year, Reed said it hasn’t disturbed the learning process.

Besides a few minor exceptions, work is being done when school is not in session.

“Even while all of this was going on we still were able to make double-digit academic growth,” Reed noted.

Reed said the flexibility of the staff, students and contractors has allowed for the project to go smoothly.

“They have been just fantastic,” Robbins added.

And as work continues, Reed said work still is on schedule to be completed by the start of next school year.

“We put a lot of planning in place to maximize the product and minimize the disturbances to learning,” Reed said.