Major renovations underway at Norwell
June 21, 2013
By CHET BAUMGARTNER
“This is the kitchen,” said architect Dana Wannemacher, standing near a mini bulldozer and a skid steer loader resting on the dirt floor.
He, members of the Northern Wells school board, district administrators and others were touring the hallways of Norwell High School in April when exposed conduits, trays, pipes and duct work lurked above visitors’ heads.
He said then — and again a recent board meeting — that contractors and workers are on or ahead of schedule.
When they finish renovating the building, students will learn in larger classes with more technology, and the heating and air conditioning won’t loudly interrupt the lesson.
Cafeteria workers will replenish the food lines without risking burning students in the tight cafeteria.
All guests will pass through a locked door at the main office before entering the building, and afterward, they can sit in the expanded media center, which will partly blend into the commons area, and they can use the school’s new technology infrastructure to browse the Internet on their laptops.
Above all, though, the high school can better serve the students who learn there, Superintendent Scott Mills said.
In May of 2012, Northern Wells residents voted by an almost 2-to-1 margin — 2,310 to 1,262 — to spend $14.9 million to renovate Norwell High School.
School board members then spent several months worth of meetings reviewing and approving the overall layout and specific classroom details.
They approved bids in December — and then the dust started to rise.
Starting in January, workers renovated classrooms in the northwest corner, as well as the library and kitchen, and when the wrestling season ended in March, they started building the new cafeteria.
By the time students return in the fall of 2013, Wannemacher said, they’ll learn in new family and consumer science, art, band, choir and other classrooms.
Contractors will then dedicate the entire 2013-2014 school year to renovating almost all the other classrooms in the A section and turning the current offices into additional classrooms.
During the first semester of that year, they’ll also transform the current cafeteria into offices.
Previously, each class spanned about 750 square feet, but the new classes, including the seven or eight where the library once stood, will be about 930 square feet, Mills said.
They will also include an interactive white board, a flat screen television and a traditional white board.
Mills also said the renovated special education classes will incorporate a “time out” room for out-of-control students and boys and girls showers for accidents.
The choir and band rooms, he said, won’t have risers built into the floor, and students can store their instruments, costumes and other items in the additional storage space.
As part of the overall project, contractors will install an awning over the main entrance’s sidewalk, install sturdier lockers, renovate the lobby south of the gym, and renovate the north gym restrooms, among other projects.
Finally, between April and August of 2014, workers will renovate the auditorium, and during that summer, they’ll renovate the hallways and four more classes in the A section — essentially completing the renovations for the 2014-2015 school year. υ