As returning students may have noticed, renovations, as part of a continued upkeep project spanning several years into the past and future, were done to the school over the summer.
A portion of the District 214 budget, which also paid for reroofing and refurbishments done to the school a few years ago and the installation of the turf field last year, went toward a few noticeable changes such as the new lights in the field house, as well as some changes students may not have noticed
Decor in several classrooms has been redone in an attempt to be more student friendly and provide a better learning environment. According to Kyle Burritt, associate principal, comfort for students and eco-friendliness were two key factors in this year’s renovations.
The LED lights in the field house require less maintenance and last longer, the filtered water systems are cleaner and healthier for students and the room redecorations, including whiteboard tables, provide more individualized learning.
“Teachers are really enjoying the spaces. It allows them the flexibility to teach the way that they want to teach,” Burritt said. “They have the ability to mix up groups and to change instruction to try and make it more realistic for kids.”
Burritt went on to explain how very few kids enjoy spending eight periods a day in a similar pattern of rowed desks and that this new furniture allows more creativity.
In addition to decor changes to individual classrooms, room 127A, previously known as Lab A, has been completely transformed into a Digital Maker Space. Freshman Michael Johnson, a programming student, loves the new room.
“It’s made the class more innovative. It’s relaxing. When programers are working, they like to be in a relaxed environment,” Johnson said. “Also having the TVs there makes it easy to display on multiple screens at once. It feels like the real world.”
This year’s renovations are part of a long-running construction project that began back in 2004. The school will soon be installing more filtered water dispensers and the lights in the gym and wrestling balcony will be switched over to the same kind of LED that was built into the field house this summer.
There are also plans to redo the floor of the field house and make minor refurbishments to the theater and areas of the choral department to maximize space.
The major renovation planned for the upcoming school year however, is the addition of a second gym connected to the back of the field house and pool. Several years in the works, construction on the new gym will begin in May and carry through the summer into the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. The hope is that construction will be done in time for next year’s winter sports season.
While a new gym appears to be a major step forward for the athletic department, some students are frustrated that the money isn’t being spent elsewhere.
“In the past few years we’ve gotten new turf and heart rate monitors. All this money is going toward athletics, which is great, but I’m worried about the fine arts department,” sophomore Nate Kraemer said. “It would be nice to see more drastic changes made to the theater.”
Assistant principal for student activities Robert Murphy clarified why a new gym is being added.
According to Murphy, the district had $55 million dollars in excess money several years ago that was to be spent on capital projects. When deciding where to spend the money, listening sessions were held for community members to speak up about what the school needed.
Frustrated parents, annoyed with how late sporting practices went because of the small size of the school and the growing number of teams, introduced the idea of a new gym.
“The Elk Grove community got vocal and they advocated for [the school] to get a new gym,” Murphy said. “It was really our community that spoke up.”
The upcoming renovations and expansion projects will significantly alter the building, but students, whether excited or apprehensive, seem to be interested in the school they will be leaving behind.
“I’m always excited to see new improvements for Elk Grove,” Kraemer said. “I’m excited for the future and to see how good we can be because I know we can be good.”