September 28, 2011From students to teachers and administrators to community leaders, there were several smiling faces at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School last Tuesday evening as the renovated media center and science classrooms were formally dedicated.
"Myself, being a student that graduated from Crawford County back in, I won't tell you what year it was, but anyhow, as I look around, this is something, I'll tell you this much, kids today should be extremely proud of," Tim Jellison, president of the Crawford County Community School Corp. Board of Trustees, told the group that was assembled in the like-new media center.
"We just should be very thankful our community is able to do something like this, because I think, if you read the newspaper and you turn the television sets on, you'll find there's a lot of school corporations that could be very envious to have what we have here."
Crawford County Junior-Senior High School sophomore Rachel Harvey, freshman Ethan McMonigle, junior Jordan Nickelson and senior Jessa Ward cut the ribbon to officially dedicate the renovated school’s science labs and media center. Photo by Chris Adams
The approximately $1.5 million project — designed by Michell Timperman Ritz Architects of New Albany with construction by James L. Shireman Inc. of Corydon — was financed primarily through an essentially no-interest loan funded from the sale of federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds with approval from the Crawford County Council to utilize up to $250,000 of the gaming dollars the school corporation receives from the county toward the project. Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the corporation, said the corporation will end up paying back less than it borrowed.
"I was very, very pleased with how cost-effective Shireman's work was for us," he said.
The renovation included gutting six science classrooms on the northeast side corner of the building and turning them into what Larry Timperman of MTR called four "university level" labs. "These are really state-of-the-art facilities," he said.
It was the first time since the school opened in 1976 that the science classrooms had been renovated.
While the media center had seen a few minor renovations through the years, this was, by far, its most extensive. The formerly windowless, dimly-lit area, located in the center part of the building, now features natural light from two large skylights, a new bright blue color scheme, new furniture and computers, an interactive SMART Board and a multi-purpose room featuring a folding glass door.
Timperman said that while MTR has completed several projects at the school during recent years, they have dealt with getting the shell of the building — roof, doors and windows — in better shape and aren't necessarily the most recognizable to the public.
"Finally, we got to do something that I call programmatic and people could really see," he said.
CCJSHS Principal Karen Sheller thanked the decision-makers for having the courage to go ahead with a needed project at a time when others might have been too fearful.
"President Clinton once said, 'Pessimism is just an excuse to not to try,' " she said. "In these times of financial strife, it would be very easy to be pessimistic."
From the school corporation's superintendent to the board of trustees to the Crawford County Council, Sheller praised them for putting the educational needs of students first.
"I just want to say thank you, thank you for your optimism and thank you for making this possible for all the kids in Crawford County now and for many years to come," she said.
Library director Cheryl Burden said students are thrilled with the new media center, which wasn't completed at the beginning of the school year and officially opened to students last week.
"I just want to let you know how excited all the students are," she told those present. "They walk through, they look up, they can't believe there's natural light in here. They're ready to just get in here and get to work."
After viewing a video presentation by the Interactive Media class detailing how technology is used at the school that was presented on the media center's new SMART Board, the open house moved to the science classrooms, where teacher Brandy Stroud told how the upgraded labs will enhance hands-on learning.
The four classrooms all feature seven individual stations each with their own sink, compared to the old classrooms that were crowded and had just a single sink.
Stroud also talked about how she can utilize the SMART Board in her classroom to illustrate to students what they'll be doing in their labs and even showing them things they'll see through their microscopes.
The renovation project, she said, is invaluable because it makes "all kinds of wonderful things" now possible for students.
"That's what we're here for, that's what we love to do," Stroud said. "So, it's just a great thing to have."
To conclude the program, Eastridge introduced four students.
"Normally, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, you'll have the superintendent of schools, you'll have the board president, you'll maybe have the president of the county council, some of the building committee" and others, he said. "They'll cut the ribbon, and they'll get their picture taken. But, with this project and what we're trying to do in Crawford County schools, that's not what it's about. It's about our young people. … So, that's why we've decided that rather than us cutting the ribbon and getting our picture taken, it's going to be representatives of our student body."
With that, senior Jessica Ward, junior Jordan Nickelson, sophomore Rachel Harvey and freshman Ethan McMonigle cut the symbolic orange ribbon to officially dedicate the new areas.