|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:00|
Right now it’s still largely just a skeleton — steel beams, exposed wiring and scaffolding.
However, when it’s finished, Beaver Creek School will be transformed into an ultramodern educational facility.
As a school district, Beaver Creek was founded in the later 1800s. The oldest building on the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade campus dates to 1932. It’s a history the staff and students are proud of as the school prepares to enter into a new era with two new buildings adding an additional 21,000 square feet to the campus.
The project involves construction of two large buildings, a main office complex and a cafeteria with a performance stage, or, as Principal Karin Ward calls it, a “cafetorium.”
Construction started earlier this year and plans call for the new buildings to be finished and ready for use by this school year’s fall break Monday, Oct. 10.
Even now, visitors to the campus would hardly recognize the place at first glance. The construction is funded by a $3.2 million bond approved by voters in 2009.
Ward said the project is doing its best to keep a lot of the dollars local, though. In fact, Ward said 53 percent of subcontractors working on the project are local, at least within a radius of 50 miles or so.
As Ward shows hard-hatted visitors around the construction site, her excitement about the new buildings is evident.
“It’s really going to be great,” Ward said, pointing to the site of a future courtyard that draws a visitor’s attention to the old 1932 building.
Ward said she eventually hopes to turn the old structure into a museum of the school’s history.
“Keeping a focus on our history is really important to me,” Ward said.
The new school’s kitchen already has a walk-in refrigerator and freezer installed, thanks to a generous grant from the Arizona Department of Education.
The kitchen will also be equipped with an Internet-based tracking system to handle supplies.
The new cafeteria and auditorium will seat up to 650 people. Large skylights will illuminate the room in the day or be closed up at night if there’s a performance. The floor of the new stage hasn’t been finished yet, but the concrete foundation bears handwritten messages from last year’s graduating eighth-graders.
Ward said she’s already thought about the day when she’ll be standing on that stage to address the students for the first time. The room was designed with good acoustics in mind. Offstage is a passageway and a future wheelchair lift leading directly to the music room.
A new teachers’ lounge is lined with large windows, giving those inside a great view of the campus around them. The other building will serve as both the school’s main office and headquarters for the school district. A new meeting room for the Governing Board comes complete with 32 data ports, in case, for instance, something like a computer club wanted to use the space, Ward said.
The front of the cafeteria can be used for community members to pick up cheap food baskets on the weekends. In fact, letting the public have some degree of access to the campus is something taken into consideration. The school’s new library will stand as a centerpiece to that type of thinking. The school partnered with the Beaver Creek Library to share the space. The library will move from its current location near the golf course to the school. Already, the library has cataloged the school’s book collection.
The front section of the library will be open to the public. When school isn’t in session but the library is open, the entire room will be open to the public.
Of course, the school has looked at security measures to keep students and staff safe, but Ward said she wanted the school to be something the community could use and continue to be proud of. The old kitchen, for instance, will be used in conjunction with a local food bank distribution program.
The office building is also going to contain a nurse’s office, complete with a shower and beds, to be staffed when the nurse is in town. And for students subject to in-school suspension, there’s a little room for them right next to the new principal’s office.
The playground and day care will be moved, and a basketball court and an area for the middle school-age students to congregate in the mornings will be installed.
The project doesn’t just include the new buildings. Money is also being spent to renovate some of the old classrooms, including a complete overhaul of the science lab. Where once stood just sinks, soon large work stations will fill the space. Some of the old space, soon to be made obsolete by the new construction, will be left empty for the time being and converted into new classroom space as the school grows.
“There are about 50 babies born in this community every year,” Ward said. Already, the school is a home away from home for around 350 children, including those children in day care.
By the time the construction is complete, the school will be able to accommodate 1,000 students, Ward said.
“It won’t happen in my lifetime,” Ward said, “But we’re looking to the future.”
As for the grand opening of the structures, Ward said not to worry.
“You’re talking to an old drama teacher here,” Ward said. “I have things planned.”
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