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New look for CCJSHS science labs, media center

September 14, 2011
Education isn't necessarily about facilities and equipment, but having the right tools certainly can help. That is why the Crawford County Community School Corp. invested approximately $1.5 million into renovations at its junior-senior high school.

The project included two parts: turning six windowless, outdated science classrooms into four modern science labs with windows and transforming the uninspiring, dark media center into a bright facility with two large skylights.

The instructors utilizing those areas couldn't be happier. One of those is Brandy Stroud, whose classes include AP Biology, Biology I and Earth Science.

"We're (able) to do labs now that you couldn't do before," Stroud, who is in her 11th year at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, said.

In addition to the six science classrooms being turned into four larger rooms, new equipment was purchased, including five touch-screen computers for each room. Before, the rooms had just a single computer for the teacher.

"So, that's a huge change right there," Stroud said.

The classrooms all feature seven stations each with its own sink. In the old, crowded labs, materials for an experiment were kept on a table at the front of the room and students would have to take them back to their work areas throughout the room. Plus, each classroom had just a single sink. Now, the teachers can have the lab materials set up at each station before class, allowing more time for experiments.

In addition, each station has multiple electrical outlets — previously, everything was connected via extension cords — and students have drawers to store their materials from day to day, making set up easier.

"Just having the space to do the labs in a safe environment for the kids is a big thing," Stroud said.

The renovation also features a vocational agriculture lab and two chemistry labs. The school's science facilities, Stroud said, are now on par with other area high schools and allow her and the department's other teachers to better prepare students for college.

"We're all just thrilled to have this opportunity to educate kids," she said of the ability to offer more hands-on learning.

Cheryl Burden, who has been library director at CCJSHS since 1998, also is thrilled with the renovation of the media center. A little bit of work, including the addition of some walls, had been done over the years, but, like the science classrooms, the media center basically had remained the same since the school opened in 1976.

"It's so much more inviting," Burden said of the updated media center. "It's just going to be a place where kids want to come."

Besides the addition of natural light from the skylights, the area has been brightened by a new color scheme. Also giving the media center a more welcoming feel is the addition of lounge seating, similar to that found in large bookstores like Barnes & Noble.

The upgrades, however, aren't just aesthetic. Thirty new computers have been added, replacing the 20 or so older machines. Each is equipped with the Microsoft Office suite, including Word and PowerPoint, which students use often in writing papers and creating presentations for their classes.

"The ones who don't have the computers at home, the resources at home, we can provide them those things," Burden said.

An interactive SMART Board also has been installed, allowing Burden, who teaches students how to do research for their classes, to work with students in the media center instead of their classrooms.

A multi-purpose room, featuring folding glass doors that allow Burden to keep an eye on the main part of the media center, also has been added. Tables and chairs can be set up so it can be used as a conference room, testing area, classroom, college room and more, she said.

"Every kid that comes in here says, 'Wow. It looks so different. It looks so amazing'," she said of the media center.

Unlike the science classrooms, the media center wasn't ready at the start of school in August, as the contractor was putting on the finishing touches, including installing the new carpet. Burden said students have been anxious to be able to start using the new facility.

"Every time I walk down the hall, 'When's the library going to be open? When's the library going to be open?' " she said.

Both renovations were financed primarily through an essentially no-interest loan funded from the sale of federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds.

In addition, the Crawford County Council authorized the school corporation to use up to $250,000 of the gaming dollars it receives from the county toward the project.

Public invited to open house

A dedication ceremony for the Crawford County Junior-Senior High School science labs and media center renovation project will be Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the media center.

Refreshments will be provided and tours will be given.

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