When a school loses half its building, you assume it would lose half of its educational opportunities, as well.
But that’s not the case as the educational program at Beaty-Warren Middle School thrives along side a $16.2 million renovation that is currently occupying half of the building.
“Things are going that well,” Principal Rhonda Decker said. “It’s just the way it is.”
“We’re making good use of our space,” she added. “We use every available space to do everything that Beaty students would typically experience. It really has worked and we are able to offer anything. We have found we are able to meet the needs of our students.”
Decker said that many students were skeptical about how the process would play out but have adapted to flourish in the environment.
Jim Penley’s advisory class even turned the construction into an art education opportunity, painting a mural of a dragon on a temporary wall that blocks the students from the construction area.
One of the most significant changes in daily practice brought about by the construction required that lunches be transported from the serving line to the auxiliary gym. “It’s going extremely well. There have been no spills,” said Decker. “(There are) two checkouts so students move quickly.” She explained that many students feel like there is more time to eat lunch because of healthier options and the two checkout people.
While the process has largely proceeded smoothly, the biggest challenge the students and staff face daily is the use of computer labs.
“(We) use them to the fullest capacity,” Decker explained. “There’s never enough. Sometimes logging on takes too much time. We do struggle because every single computer is utilized a hundred percent of the time.” A very regimented schedule has assisted, but the problem remains.
However, one benefit of the process has been increased communication school-wide.
“All teams and grade levels are together. They made it their own,” said Decker. “It made for better communication and supervision of students between classes. All the students still have the same opportunities.”
She also said that both they are looking forward to the return of 6th grade students and staff which will likely occur next school year.
Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht said that construction will shift over the summer to the portion of the building currently utilized by the staff and students. He added that there is a January 2014 goal for project completion.
But, until then, the educational program will continue to move forward as it has.
Dr. Paul Yourchisin, who said he supervised a student teacher at Beaty last semester, called the environment “a high flying, fun place to be.”
But Decker didn’t claim the credit for the culture that has held firm in spite of the construction.
“It’s the staff. We just moved on,” she said. “It’s the flexibility and dedication of the staff.”