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Archive for Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Light at end of tunnel’ seen at new South Junior High

Construction down to final touches

November 27, 2007

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South Junior High School seventh-graders in Kathy Stuntz's science class work on Mars calendars in the hallway outside their classroom at the newly constructed school. Students and faculty have been adjusting to more open and spacious classrooms and hallways in the new school design. Final touches are being added to the new school, and construction should be complete before the spring semester begins.

South Junior High School seventh-graders in Kathy Stuntz's science class work on Mars calendars in the hallway outside their classroom at the newly constructed school. Students and faculty have been adjusting to more open and spacious classrooms and hallways in the new school design. Final touches are being added to the new school, and construction should be complete before the spring semester begins.

South Junior High School students flood the hallways Nov. 15 during a morning class change at the newly constructed school. Work has continued at the building since school started in August, but all of it should be finished by the end of the year.

South Junior High School students flood the hallways Nov. 15 during a morning class change at the newly constructed school. Work has continued at the building since school started in August, but all of it should be finished by the end of the year.

Near the end of November - at a time when most schools have settled into a routine - construction workers still are part of the school day at South Junior High School.

But, in the words of Principal Will Fernandez, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. And workers soon will apply final touches at South and nearby Broken Arrow School.

The new South was part of a $23.9 million project that also included renovations and an addition to Broken Arrow. The two schools are in the 2700 block of Louisiana Street.

Work started in August 2006 - under an aggressive schedule that was delayed last spring by weather. The delay forced administrators to push back the start of classes at South by three days, and some teachers had to double up in classrooms and float around until late October, when all rooms could be used.

Staff members are eager for all work to be complete.

"It will be a great situation. It's just like anything new. There's a few kinks to work out," said Brandon Mellen, a South business education teacher.

Adjustments

One unique feature at South - ground-floor classrooms with all-glass garage-style doors - allow teachers to expand their classes into the hallway.

"It's distracting. Initially, when they showed us these plans we all went, 'Oh my gosh, junior high kids, no way,''' said science teacher Kathy Stuntz.

Some teachers have covered the middle panes with paper, Stuntz said, but she likes to see into the hallway so she can keep better tabs on students.

Fernandez said administrators and teachers still are discussing how they will take advantage of the school's extraordinarily wide hallways. Two classes could meet together in the hallway: for example, a history class studying the Great Depression and an English class reading "The Grapes of Wrath."

That plan is just fine with Rich Barr, fire marshal for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical, who said students and teachers can temporarily use hallways during class time as long they maintain a 6-foot-wide walkway.

Issues

Several teachers lauded the building for its use of light, compared with the much darker old school that probably was best known for its round shape. The larger school also meant the school district could get rid of portable classrooms. But not everything is larger.

"I'm pretty disappointed for the librarian, and the locker area seems to be difficult to supervise," said Shirley Bove, an electronic media, keyboarding and American history teacher. "Overall, I feel good about the school. I'm really (eager) for the parking lot."

Fernandez said security cameras are in place in the locker areas and that things seem to have gone smoothly during passing periods.

Marcia McPhail, South's librarian for 17 years, said the new library allows staff to group books and materials on certain subjects. She and administrators have decided to add shelves into the media classroom across the hall to make room for geography and history materials.

"We're a little tight in space, but I think that's going to work out," McPhail said.

She said the new library beats the old one, where she could not observe all students.

The punch list

Stuntz said conditions have improved since the school opened, but teachers are counting the days when all details are fixed, such as adding tile to the concrete floor in her classroom and putting rubber tips on the legs of her students' chairs.

Fernandez said construction workers and administrators have worked hard to meet the needs of teachers and the custodial staff.

"Every teacher rose to the occasion, and every teacher knew that we were in a difficult situation, but they also knew that there was going to be light at the end of the tunnel. So the light's already here," Fernandez said.

Several teachers said Fernandez has kept them in the loop as far as construction developments.

"Once the punch list is done, I think everybody will be real happy with it," said Scott Robinson, South's band teacher.

The main gymnasium floor likely will be ready for students on Dec. 10, said Tom Bracciano, district operations and facility planning director. Now that the old South has been demolished, administrators expect a new parking lot and the office area, classrooms and Broken Arrow to be ready next week, he said.

When that occurs, administrators will go through South with crews to touch up other things. Other projects will be finished during winter break, and crews will spray down the new track surface next spring.

"Overall, I'm very, very happy that we've got a new building. I think when the last few things get put on, we're going to be very happy here," said Bove, the electronic media, keyboarding and history teacher.

Comments

dragonfly0221 6 years, 4 months ago

My kids go to Broken Arrow and there are still 60 third graders and three teachers sharing a room because the 'extra' or 'overflow' room isn't done yet. Hmmmm......great learning enviornment.

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mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

I have been in a few classrooms with outside views, and any view of the outside is a good view.
My kids don't mind the garage doors. Can't wait to get the gyms done, and I like the set up of the gyms. Hope the track is done in time for track season....

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mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

The classrooms don't necessarily need to have windows, but the natural light helps when traveling between classes and the entire place seems brighter than the circle cave design of the old school.
The auditorium does have a door to open, and I think adding chairs to the back of the auditorium such as described was on purpose. But there would be more seating, if they didn't have to put the other bands in there to wait. When I was in high school, someone would wait with us while the other group was performing. More seating for parents, etc. If the kids want to watch the other performances, then let them sit in the chairs in the back....would be less noisy to change, I would think....

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Defender 6 years, 4 months ago

"An incredible waste of funds."

If you check out the posts from b3, you will find there are quite a few idiotic opinions and pointless remarks posted by this loser, er, user.

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Marcy McGuffie 6 years, 4 months ago

The garage doors were installed for safety reasons...but, were installed backwards so that they don't lock from the inside. Um, yeah...tax dollars well spent. Also, if there were an intruder...kinda seems like the garage door design ain't all that great (w/out the screwup), imo.

And yeah, they have natural light, but most classrooms still don't have good windows. And from what I saw - when they do have windows, they have horrific views.

The place seems cold to me. And, it's unfortunate that administrators did not listen to employees regarding stuff such as library size and auditorium size.

I dunno - I think things could've been thought out better and the contractors should be held accountable for screwing up door installations!

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motomom 6 years, 4 months ago

my son goes to south. i think it is pretty cool. i love those funky garage doors and i love those high ceilings, too. the auditorium was not well thought out, though. the first concert in there was a joke. they had to bring chairs in from classrooms to create tons of more seating in the back. how was that overlooked, i wonder?

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horsegirl 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree about the murals. They were so good!!!!!

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costello 6 years, 4 months ago

Both of my sons went to the old South. Awful building. I'm glad it's been replaced. The only sad thing is the loss of those murals.

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mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

I think the natural light is a great improvement for a school. But I don't understand why the library and auditorium didn't grow in size from the old school.

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horsegirl 6 years, 4 months ago

My daughter goes to South. While it is a little nicer than I would have done, considering funds spent, the old South needed to be replaced horribly. It was a fire trap! Just imagine... no windows, power goes out, and just a few exits. And top it off, you have to walk in these awkward circles. Horrible, horrible sixties design...

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mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

And why do you say that, b3? Evidently, you were never in the old school and have never been in the new school.

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b3 6 years, 4 months ago

An incredible waste of funds.

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