Building toward SuccessIf you drove around the campuses of Grenada Schools this summer, then you may have noticed something — this is not a district on vacation. On most any given day, you'll find workers mowing, weed-eating, power-washing, planting, and painting. You'll see backhoes scooping and heavy work trucks hauling off refuse. You'll see buses running kids to and from summer classes and athletes in training.
One of the busiest departments at GSD during the summer is our rock-solid maintenance department. They rarely take a break, and when the students are away and the buildings are nearly empty, they really switch into high gear.
School buildings and classrooms receive heavy use and plenty of wear and tear during the year. Instead of waiting for them to deteriorate, our mission is to keep the school's infrastructure fresh and functional.
Some of our buildings have quite a few years on them, and instead of spending millions of dollars on new buildings, our philosophy is to maintain what we have.
The key to making this happen is the maintenance crew, which are second to none. They're capable of making the school look as good as any new building, and they can also build better, sturdier furniture for classrooms than anything we could buy — and cheaper too! They work fast and welcome every challenge we throw at them. So what exactly are we working on this summer at Grenada School District?
For starters, there is always repainting, repairing, and resurfacing that needs to be done. The elementary school buildings, especially the PreK-3, will look even more vibrant after the fresh coats of paint they've been receiving. The sports fields too will be lush and trim and the planters will be neat and in bloom after the careful, diligent work by our grounds crew.
But the major focus this summer is on our older buildings, including the middle and high school.
Last year the high school received phase one of a substantial overhaul, the first time the building had been renovated since it opened in 1974. The refurbishment included updated entryways and a redesigned, glass-front main office, as well as widened, repainted hallways and new floor tile.
Many visitors have commented on the modern design of the public restrooms near the auditorium, and this summer that design has been replicated and carried throughout the building in the four student restrooms.
Other projects in phase two of our high school update include new ceilings with energy-saving LED lighting that really pops. The new ceilings and lighting is being implemented throughout all hallways and in twenty classrooms. Every doorway in the main building will see its jambs repainted and sturdy new wooden doors installed.
We're sprucing up the student entrance to the high school on the stadium side aswell. Wider sidewalks are being poured, along with paved surfaces around thepicnic tables and seating areas so that students will no longer have to walkthrough mud going to class on wet mornings.
When students at Grenada Middle School were dismissed in May, the maintenance crew wasted no time pulling outlockers on the 6th and 7th grade wings.The widened halls will improve trafficflow when students return. When I paid a recent visit to the middle school, I founda flurry of activity. Even the principals were pitching in to help paint classrooms as well as newly exposed hallways to match the color palette from the surrounding Walls That Teach.
Just like the the high school, the middle school will begin phasing in new ceilings and LED lights that will dramatically improve visibility in the hallways and classrooms. Also, the new bathroom design is being implemented in the student restrooms. Maybe the most dramatic improvement at the middle school will be the exterior painting. The building has accumulated a patchwork of colors and styles of bricksover the years through various additionsand improvements, and when it's complete, the building will be one unified,handsome bluish gray.
Surely the most stunning transformation in the district is the old FFA shop in the Grenada Career and Technical Center. The maintenance crew recently completed building a new industrial kitchen for the GCTC's popular culinary arts program. Students were previously bussed to the old Lizzie Horne building for kitchen instruction, but this fall, they'll have the opportunity to cook in this beautiful new 2,000 square-foot kitchen with four range tops, griddles,two convection ovens, and an industrial fridge and freezer. Students in Lindsey Kelly's 21st Century classes tested it this summer, and they said they felt like real chefs turning out tasty projects in this real-deal kitchen.
The whole purpose of our summer construction efforts is to create an environment where students feel the urgency of success. We want them to walk into a school that looks like success, smells like success, and most certainly, feels like success.
And more than anyone else, our teachers spend much of their lives at school.It should be a place they feel eager and inspired to return every day, year after year.
So when students and faculty return to campus in August, they'll be shocked to see the changes and improvements that have been made over the summer. We hope it will inspire them to come back and produce their own great work.