Work on Eisenhower Middle High School is "poetry in motion," according to Kelly Martin, school principal.
"The workers are efficient, the right hand knows what the left hand is doing, it's well-coordinated with no lost movement," he said.
Phase One of construction began earlier this year, bringing the infrastructure up to current codes. The electrical wiring, heating, plumbing and a new sprinkler system are in place.
Construction vehicles can be seen on the campus of Eisenhower Middle/High School
Martin, who has returned to Eisenhower after a four-year absence, said workers will be working in areas isolated from the students. "They (students) won't even see the workers, much less interact with them."
As expected, the seventh- and eighth-grade students will be in classes sequestered in the EHS auditorium, choir and band rooms, and sixth-grade students will remain at Sugar Grove or Russell elementary schools for one more year.
Martin added, "At Eisenhower, we will begin in September as we closed out the previous school year, using the 300 hallway classrooms, cafeteria, library, gym and tech ed rooms."
"Beginning on the first day of school, we will have all the teachers, students and buses using the back parking area exclusively to drop off or pick up students; it will also be used for parking. The front driveway will be closed... due to construction," although the front of the building should be open for traffic in about six weeks.
Fall sports practice began on Aug. 12, with football practice taking place at Sugar Grove Elementary School from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cheerleading practice from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Martin said that Marcia Madigan, Sugar Grove principal, had complimented the football players as "gentlemen, even taking off their cleats when in the building." A garage at the school has been converted into a shower for the students. All pre-season scrimmages will take place at other schools.
Soccer is the only team that will continue to practice at the high school.
Band practice has been taking place at Russell Elementary, behind the school, and the girls basketball teams will also hold their pre-season practice at Russell.
Five people have been added to faculty. They are Christopher Demorest, guidance counselor; Shelley Wagner, assistant principal; Ronda Darling, physical education and health; Laura Terrill, learning support and Sherrie Crosby, office secretary.
Martin was effusive in his thanks to the community for its "tremendous" support.
He said, "Thad Turner at the YMCA donated the use of a court for the girls' volleyball practice from four to eight (p.m.) every night until school starts."
Ruth Nelson, interim director of Pupil Services for the school district, said auditorium programs would be off-site, and Martin explained that Praise Fellowship in Russell and the Inter-Faith Chapel in North Warren have volunteered their spaces for whatever auditorium needs there would be.
She noted that Phase One is on target, with an expected completion date around Christmas.
"Cafeteria space and the multi-media center will be ready for use at the start of the school year. Fifteen geothermal wells are installed at the front of the building, to help with heating and cooling. A 5,000-gallon tank is in place for the water retention system," she said. The tank will collect rain water for use in the restrooms, and an autowash system in the restrooms will be solar powered.
In addition to providing renewable energy, Nelson added that students will monitor the heating and cooling extracted through the wells, perform experiments in thermodynamics and monitor water savings.
Phase Two will be the opposite of the first phase, where education and construction will be "flipped," with classes and student activities moving into the completed Phase One areas.
Phase Two-A will be the construction of the new elementary addition and upgrade of the music facility, and the entire project should be completed in time for the 2014-2015 school year.
The school's annual Middle School Level Picnic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Eisenhower parking lot for middle school students, their parents, teachers and staff. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be provided by the school's Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and a tour of middle school classrooms and common areas is scheduled.
Martin noted that the PTA has been cooking meals for the construction workers, who were pleased with having hot meals. He asked how much the food would cost for the picnic, and was told, "Don't worry about it. We made a boatload of money from the workers' meals."
Picture day for the students will be Friday, Sept. 6. An open house will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, and the homecoming football game will be held on Friday, Sept. 13 with the Homecoming Dance the following evening in the school cafeteria.