Effects of construction felt around building, many eager for completion

The clangs and clanks of construction ring through school daily, but the effects of construction on people are more than just a headache. Though teachers encounter roadblocks like disruptions to the classroom and flooding, they ultimately anticipate the finished building eagerly.

Since passing the $97.5 million bond to renovate the high school and build a new elementary school, additions to the building including multiple science labs, an expanded cafeteria and a brand new Pony Center. The chaos of change causes quite the commotion for students and teachers alike. Closest to the action are math teacher Darby Whitehill and band director Dennis Lindsay.

In order to make room for a doorway in the math hallway, Whitehill sacrificed his office and a bit of classroom space.

“It’s a little bit tighter in here,” Whitehill explained. “Giving the chance to sit in team format.”

Auditory and visual distractions of trucks backing and dirt smashing provide a disruptive learning environment in Whitehill’s classroom. To accommodate the ruckus, he closes the blinds.

“It creates a challenge, but also an opportunity,” Whitehill said. “We get to work in groups a little bit more.”

Despite the challenges that come along with the busy work site adjacent to Whitehill’s room, there are ample lessons to be learned from gazing out the window.

We love to see real world jobs happening. The students look outside and they can picture themselves. What if that was my job?”

— Darby Whitehill

“We love to see real world jobs happening,” Whitehill said. “The students look outside and they can picture themselves. What if that was my job?”

An exciting feature to be built is an additional hallway to help with the problem of congested traffic flow.

“Some people call them the parallel hallway dream, where kids can travel throughout the school in two hallways,” Whitehill explained. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Vice principal Chris Otto oversees the school’s construction and shares anticipation for the dual hallway.

“Instead of going down to the end [of the hallway] and hitting a dead end, you can go downstairs or you can go back,” Otto said. “It’ll seem less crowded because of the changes to the traffic flow.”

On the other side of the building, band director Dennis Lindsay may appear to be far from the tools and hardhats of construction. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite. With the addition of ninth graders to the building, around 400  musicians will join the existing 600 or so frequenting the choir, band and orchestra rooms.

“It’ll be nice to have those musicians in the environment that we create up here, because I think it will over the long term create even better music ensembles and even better musical experience,” Lindsay said. “It’ll be fun to hear ensembles in the rooms pretty much every period.”

Before the fall of 2017 there is still much to do around the music rooms, including the installation of practice rooms and completing the pit for a pit orchestra. This past summer, construction was stalled by about two weeks when 2500 gallons of water flooded the music rooms.

“The concert grand and all the other grand pianos were sitting in the band room and there was water flowing underneath them,” Lindsay said. “We only lost three boxes of music.”

Unfortunately, those three boxes of music priced around $3000. Construction workers and school staff alike poured in to move equipment from the band room and stop the flood. Although he and his classroom suffered from the water damage, Lindsay manages to look at the bright side.

“It was fantastic to see what the Kraus-Anderson guys did because that was an unexpected accident and they really hustled,” Lindsay said. “They did a really nice job. I have to compliment them on that.”

So while the pains of construction in the workplace are felt all around, everybody is excited to see the results.