As the school year comes to an end, the $16.5 million construction project at Francis C. Hammond Middle School is on time and on budget.
The project began in July 2001, and is scheduled to be finished before the start of the 2002-03 school year in September.
“We are very pleased with the work that has been done,” said Kris Clark, the school’s principal. “We have not had to cancel one day of school and the water has been turned off for only one hour during school because of the construction project. We believe that there has been minimal disruption to student learning over the past school year.”
Walid Chayn is a seventh-grader at Hammond. He has lived through this year’s construction. “In some classrooms, they have been doing construction on top of us on the second floor and that has been a little noisy, but they usually begin construction a couple of minutes after we have that class,” Walid said. “The only time that it has been kind of hard is when we have tests.”
WALID SERVED as one of the tour guides on a recent tour of the newly renovated sections of the school. The music space is completely new. There is an orchestra room, a choir room and a band room adjacent to the auditorium. “The spaces are filled with light and are large,” Clark said. “The band could practice marching in their space if they needed to.”
The breezeway that used to connect two buildings is now enclosed and houses 10 classrooms. “This is completely new and has allowed us to enclose our courtyard so that we can secure it and allow students to use it,” Clark said.
The sixth-grade wing is all new. “We have an elevator here,” Walid said. “This is really good for kids who have trouble walking and for when we have to use the cart to carry books and other packages that are heavy from one floor to another.”
The elevator and ramps throughout the building have made it compliant with the Americans With Disability Act.
THE SIXTH GRADE “house” will allow for the separation of the grades but will also allow for ease of use of the music, language, art and science labs that are shared. “Having each grade self-contained will be a benefit to everyone,” Clark said.
The cafeteria is now under construction, requiring students to eat in the newly constructed auxiliary gym. “This is actually good,” Walid said. “Everyone thinks it’s pretty neat to eat in the gym.”
The old main gym will get new bleachers and new lighting. The cafeteria will be totally redone and will allow the school to have three seatings next year.
THE NEW MEDIA CENTER is also yet to be built. “The media center and the cafeteria are the main items left to be completed,” Clark said. “Other than that, we have some renovation in classrooms to complete. When we are finished, every classroom will have new carpet, new furniture and new wiring. Every teacher in the entire building is packing their things in boxes so that they can be moved. Because of the need to rearrange the building spaces, no one will have their same classroom next year.”
The neighborhood has been supportive and involved in the process. “We have kept the Seminary Hills Civic Association involved and they have been very supportive,” said V. Rodger Digilio, the chairman of the School Board’s Facilities Committee. “There have been concerns, of course, but we have all worked together to resolve them.”