It may look like somewhat of a war zone on the campus of Lovell High School this week, but school is set to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 2, in spite of it all.
School Supt. Rick Woodford said, though it may not look like it at the moment, the campus of the high school, which has been under construction all summer, will be an environment fit for learning by the time the students cross its threshold on Tuesday.
Unanticipated delays caused by change orders and additional asbestos removal work set the very ambitious construction schedule back by 14 days. Woodford said though contractors scrambled to make up the time by working overtime and weekends the start of school was delayed by seven days.
With installation of carpet and other flooring now complete, teachers were able to start moving into their classrooms this week. Though construction personnel are still working on the finishing touches in almost every area of the school, doing things like adding baseboard trim, crown molding and installing television sets in the new classroom learning walls, it is anticipated the classrooms will be ready for students on time.
Woodford said there was some concern about Internet access at the start of school, but technicians are working hard and already have Internet access up and running in most of the classrooms.
“The Internet is a big part of learning,” he said. “It’s also a big part of instruction, so getting it done is being emphasized this week.”
The multi-purpose room is still running far ahead of its October deadline and is about 95 percent complete. Though many of the finishing touches to the multi-purpose room are complete, some electrical work remains, along with work on the auditorium’s state-of-the-art sound system and other finishing touches. A new doorway was added allowing students on the stage an easy exit point on the west side of the stage. Other finishes like interior glass and doors are also in the works. Woodford said he expects the room to be up and running within a few weeks of school starting.
New bus lane
Construction of the new bus lane hit a snag this week when, during a trial run with buses, it was discovered that the buses would be required to make too tight of a turn when entering Great Western Ave. via Main Street. The problem was quickly resolved, Woodford said, the new bus lane and parent drop-off for students will be in effect on day one.
Though the newly renovated athletic playing field is completely level and green, Doug Hazen and the football team have been holding their practices at the middle school to allow the sod to fully take root. Woodford said the field will be absolutely be ready for the first home football game on Sept. 5, though concessions will most likely be sold at the old stand in the gym, as the new kitchen is still several weeks away from completion. He said the field only needs to be marked and striped before it is ready for the first football game.
Students will be bused to the elementary school for lunch, as in previous years, while the finishing touches are completed on the high school kitchen, or Bulldog Café, as it is being called. Woodford said once the kitchen is open students will be able to eat on campus and socialize on the deck of the new multi-purpose room. He said he hopes the sound and video systems will be up and running soon so that students can enjoy entertainment while dining in that area.
The band, choir and family and consumer science students will also be bused temporarily to other campuses, while construction is completed in their learning areas, which are not expected to be complete until October.
Athletes have been working around the construction of the weight room adjacent to the gym, and the school will host the North Big Horn Invitational volleyball tournament as planned this weekend. New routing for the buses dropping off athletes from other schools is in place, said Woodford.
“We just need to get the word out to other schools, so the drivers know where to go, ” he said.
A last minute switch in teaching and other assignments took place with the early departure of biology teacher and golf coach Levi Collins, who ended his contract early to accept another position outside of the education field. Fortunately, new English teacher Samantha Christianson’s first area of emphasis is biology, so she was thrilled to fill the position vacated by Collins. Carissa Camp agreed to go back to her old position in the English Dept. temporarily, while a permanent teacher is found. Camp was in the process of making a move to the library to take on the role of instructional facilitator and media advisor, vacated by Sheri Monk, who retired recently. Monk agreed to come back part time until the staffing could be resolved.
Woodford said he appreciated those who shifted their duties, especially Camp, for the benefit of the team. He said, in addition to looking for a new English teacher, a paraprofessional is sought for the library along with an individual certified to be head coach of the golf team.
The district administrative offices will continue to be temporarily located behind the main office at the high school until remodel of its wing is complete. Woodford said those offices, along with the rest of that wing, will be complete sometime in October.
“Our teachers have been fantastic through all of this,” said Woodford. “We haven’t heard any complaining or rumbling from them. They are rolling with the waves on this project and we are really happy about that. Their attitude has been really fantastic.”
He said with the start of school next week, construction personnel and staff are completely focused on getting the classrooms ready for students. Any additional details that need to be done in the classrooms after school starts will be completed off school hours.
By Patti Carpenter