Craig, Parker start taking shape
The panels covered a summer's worth of pipe, duct and wire work. The also made the schools look more like schools and less like a great place to shoot a movie about an alien-ravaged space station.
The schools are still messy, but officials promised they'd be ready to go for the fall semester.
Still on the to-do list: More paint, flooring and cleaning. Masses of furniture and equipment, now stored in gyms and auditoriums, need to be put back.
Of course, the buildings are supposed to look like that. You don't spend $70.8 million to expand and renovate without tearing up the place.
Actually, the progress was remarkable from six weeks ago, the last time school officials offered a tour of the projects. Principals led the tours of their buildings while J.P. Cullen & Sons managers stood by to answer the technical questions.
Craig project manager Jeremy Shecterle said it's been adventure.
"If you've ever remodeled anything in your house, multiply that by a million—that's what it's like," Shecterle said.
And it's not done yet. Construction will continue for another year, which means this school year will have its inconveniences.
For Craig students, the inconveniences start with the basics: They have new lockers, but the locks work a bit differently than the old ones, said Principal Mike Kuehne.
And all the rooms at Craig were re-numbered. The 200 Hall is now the 500 Hall. The old 500 Hall is the 900 Hall. Craig students got maps when they registered Tuesday.
Registration for both schools took place at middle schools. But officials promised Craig and Parker will be ready for the first day of school—Sept. 2.
Students will notice gleaming new floors, freshly painted walls, indirect lighting that turns itself on and off. They'll also find a new hallway or two, or a wall where a hall used to be.
They'll see new, energy-efficient windows that officials said already make a difference on hot days.
Air conditioning won't be ready. There's a good chance the AC will be on for next spring's heat waves, several months ahead of schedule, official said.
A big deal for students might be the restrooms. The old and sometimes odoriferous rooms with their rusty fixtures have been replaced with gleaming new tile, lighting and motion-activated faucets.
"We're really hoping the new appearance will make students take pride in the restrooms," Parker Principal Steve Schroeder said.
One of the most needed improvements will be Parker High's new science rooms. The 12 rooms each will have their own labs. But they're still under construction, so students and teachers will have to make do with the two decrepit, 40-year-old labs.
The good news is the new labs should be ready by late February, Schroeder said.
Parker's remodeled cafeteria will be ready to eat in Sept. 2, but the kitchen won't be. Food will be trucked in from the Franklin Middle School kitchen until around Nov. 1, Schroeder said.
Craig's cafeteria won't be ready, but its old kitchen will be working, Kuehne said. Kids will eat in the J Room and outside the auditorium, as they did last year.
The Craig cafeteria, with its soaring ceiling and enormous windows, might be ready by January, Kuehne said.
Both principals were excited about the changes.
The vision is to remake schools into places that will prepare the next two generations for their futures, Kuehne said.
Schroeder said he hopes to arrange tours of the new construction on back-to-school night, Sept. 15, and during homecoming.
"We want you to see the new Parker High School," he said.