Students Return to New School Environment
Schools Facelift, Renovations Bring Big Opportunities, Expectations
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
HARRISON – On the morning of Sept. 10, Harrison Community Schools Superintendent Rick Foote gave the Cleaver a tour of the nearly complete high school-middle school renovation. This third tour of the project was quite different from the previous two: There were no saws singing, concrete grinders churning and no generator-powered trouble lights hanging from the metal roof trusses. The newly finished gym floor was getting a fine sanding in preparation for another clear coat, and from somewhere nearby came the occasional staccato notes of an impact drill. The school buildings now sport daylight, high efficiency LED lighting and the welcome that comes with a bright, fresh new coat of paint.
There is still finish work, a long punch list to be addressed, and work continues with installation of the remaining exterior doors and windows. The auditorium is largely done, and wood finishing work was being done at tour time.
The enlarged kitchen and serving lines, along with substantial cafeteria seating will definitely allow efficient, timely service for time-crunched students. The current “largeness” of the lobby space inside the double security entry will be more social and welcoming when furnishings are in place and the trophy case wall is finished and populated.
And while that construction/finish work continues, students are undisturbed in closed, sound-stabile, secure classrooms. Contractor work continues indoors in areas where no students are present, and after 3 p.m. work can resume in those areas.
All in all, the first day back had its share of “How does this work?” and “That’s not hooked up yet” moments, but Foote is confident those details will get ironed out in short order, and systems will be working as designed.
It was interesting to see the 1973 and 2018 building dedication wall plaques in the high school, realizing that in 1973 the project hinged on new ideas about learning and social structure. Now, the new project hinges on providing technology to enable learning, and security to enable students to survive a new negative “norm” in society.
Anyone who ever walked through the open concept classroom areas could not help but be struck by the absolute quiet of the new hallways. All the student chatter is contained within sturdy walls and behind secure doors.
The Harrison Community Schools building renovations plan started out with a realization that the school district couldn’t continue to place bandages on the ever-increasing number of wounds and system failures its buildings faced. It also was increasingly evident was the failure of the quirky idea that children would learn better in an open-concept building by being exposed to the lessons going on around them – exposure that turned out to be nothing more than chaotic distraction for students and a nearly-insurmountable obstacle for teachers.
The inability to offer current technologies and adequate building security topped off the shortfalls that had to be addressed by the Harrison district. And so, the kernels of need sprouted into solutions, which in turn were converted into tangible architectural plans to renovate every school building, including the demolition of the oldest building [whose halls and staircases would barely pass current building codes for a residence, let alone a school building. Those drawings and a financial plan to make them a reality were presented to the community in October 2016. The Step Up For Our Students Committee was formed, and specific and detailed information flowed freely into the community in the effort to convince voters of the necessity they pass a multi-phase bond to fund the renovations.
The Step Up Committee was highly successful in its efforts and in May 2017 the bond was voted in, and from there it was full steam ahead in order to have all details resolved and demolition/construction for the first phase of the project be effected when school was not in session. Work on the high school and middle school was chosen to be done first as completing that segment would provide benefit for the largest number of students going forward.
Some wall extension/closure work was done in the middle school over spring break 2018, followed by the huge high school demolition/construction, athletic fieldhouse construction, and middle school infrastructure [wiring/alarm/security] work and interior refurbishing was tackled over summer break. That brought the project to the long-awaited and much-anticipated Monday, Sept. 10 first day of the 2018-2019 school year. The newly paved and organized parking lot had ample parking, and HHS and HMS welcomed students through secure entries into a safer, technologically up-to-date facility equipped to encourage best practices and best outcomes, educate students well and foster success.
Assisting in that mindset are positive thought phrases and quotes which embellish walls throughout the high school. That atmosphere of intention focused on expected success pervades the space, along with an accompanying sense of academic/performance structure students can rely on. Those are the elements of a strong foundation, a foundation upon which Harrison Community Schools students can actively begin to build their futures.
In 2020, the second phase of the renovation project will address conversion of Hillside Elementary into administration, alternative education and other office spaces. That project also will see new classroom construction at the Larson Elementary site enabling containment of grades K-5 on the same campus as well as on the same side of Spruce Street as the middle and high schools. That will be a safety plus for walking students, as well as a streamlining element for busing.
Foote said that when it comes time to start construction preparations for the second phase, the school will be wiser in the ways of obtaining permits. He said permit delays through the state had seriously set back the current project, which had been scheduled to be complete by Sept. 10. Foote said the work is now about 80 percent finished and should wrap up by the end of October.
“BOE Hears of School Project Progress”
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
HARRISON – The Aug. 13 Harrison Community Schools Board of Education meeting was busy, productive and informative. Aside from the usual approval of minutes and financial reports, the Board also heard from HCS Superintendent Rick Foote about the committee meetings held since the Board’s July meeting. Foote advised that the posting for a new high school principal had closed the previous Wednesday, followed by a meeting and that recommendations would be given in the near future on how the position would be filled.
Foote told the Board that after a meeting of the Curriculum, Athletics and Student Activities groups, he had advised the Student Council Adviser to hold a special election at the beginning of the new school year for the office of Student Council treasurer only.
“So, hopefully that will be moving forward,” Foote said.
He also said new guidelines would be placed into the student handbook regarding elections, homecoming, Student Council, and that the language had been updated for National Honor Society in that book.
During Public Participation, the Board heard again from Halima Cisse regarding resolution of her grievance about the way Student Council election candidates had been chosen/denied. (See accompanying story.)
Under Informational/Discussion, Foote informed the Board of an agreement reached with Hamilton Township about the swing sets and pavilions at the old Amble School on Arnold Lake Road. The township has agreed to pay a $500 convenience fee and remove the items at its convenience and expense and then install them at its developing community park area at the Hamilton Township Hall. The Board was in agreement with that action.
Also addressed was the need to complete high school curriculum and discipline changes for the coming school year. Following HHS Principal Ryan Biller’s abrupt departure in July, Joe Ashcroft, athletic director and dean of students, had stepped up to work on those items and presented the proposed changes and reasoning for them. He said a new science curriculum has been added, following the next generation of science standards which the state of Michigan approved last year. Some changes include the combining of subjects into a single course, such as Earth Science with Physical Science, as well as Chemistry with Physics. Ashcroft also noted the decline in numbers of students signing up for Forensic Science I and II, as well as Contemporary Young Adult Literature, necessitating them being offered in odd and even years, rather than dropping the courses completely. He also spoke of classes which are desired to be offered, but which depend on a minimum of 15 students.
Ashcroft also spoke of the new STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] lab classroom the school has built, which it is hoped will become filled by interested students over the next couple years.
Ashcroft said the first couple changes to the program would be the largest, with the remaining changes including the addition of classes to provide more choices for students. Some of the changes deal with changing credit requirements for students, such as Computers II changing from a requirement to an elective credit. He said that would give flexibility to students who may be in Band or Dual [enrolled] CTE. Already offered is 20 hours of online experience, which is state required. Ashcroft said that English IV specifically has the most research work being done online.
Also addressed was the process for determining valedictorian and salutatorian. Ashcroft said that if a tie occurs for valedictorian, the tie-breaking factor would be the first SAT score taken at Harrison, beginning in 2022, affecting this year’s incoming freshman class. The practice of multiple valedictorians and salutatorians will end, and the remaining high-scoring seniors will be recognized as achieving “highest honors.”
“This is what most of the schools around us are doing already,” Ashcroft said.
Another topic Ashcroft addressed was student use of cell phones. He noted that with all the accessible technology updates in the buildings, there is no longer a need [if determined by individual teachers] for students to use their phones for research. Ashcroft said that just possessing the phone leads to a perceived need to check that phone and thus, cell phones will be eliminated from the classroom completely.
“If that phone goes off in their pocket, they’re not focused on being educated at that time,” he said. “The urge is just too big for them to pull that cell phone out and look.”
Also addressed was Student Council eligibility requirements: grade-point average, Code of Conduct, attendance, discipline added. Those items had been reviewed, and prior to the BOE meeting, Board member Roger Peterson had offered suggestions regarding definitions and an appeal process somewhat similar to the one stated in the HCS Athletic Handbook. Board president Angie Cullen also suggested the addition of a discipline log to be signed by both the student and teacher/adviser.
Ashcroft elaborated on the proposed cooperative agreement with Farwell Schools which has no ski program. The agreement would allow Farwell students to ski as Harrison team members in Harrison colors.
The next discussion item was perhaps the most anticipated by the Board: an update on the high school/middle school construction project by architect Sean LaRock of Integrated Designs Inc. and project manager Jeff Bates of Wolgast Corp.
LaRock spoke very little, because his portion of the project came early on. Now the focus is on the actual construction, and Bates spoke forthrightly about delays encountered, and the hopefully minor disruptions to class time that can be expected as work continues after school resumes session Sept. 10.
“We knew when we started this project over a year ago that it would be one of the more challenging ones to try and get done because of the scope and time constraints,” Bates said. “At this point, it’s still been quite a challenging project. Overall I think we’re in a pretty good spot right now.”
Bates said pretty much all the roofing was done, that finishes were being done along with flooring in classrooms and tiling in various areas. He said finish work is concentrating on painting and ceiling work in the classrooms first, so teachers could get moved in. Ceiling grids are up, but tiles are not installed which will allow visibility for the Aug. 30 walk-through with the building inspector and the fire marshal.
“We wanted to leave ourselves a little bit of time in case there is something that needs to be corrected, and we can come back the week of the [Sept.] 4th,” he said. “But the main goal this year is to make sure we can open school.”
Bates said there would likely still be some activity going on around the outside of the building, and that some second shift work might need to be done in finishing up some classrooms. He also said the financial side of things was still “comfortable,” even though there had been some extras, some of which were created by the state which had added approximately one and one-half weeks of time to the project.
Bates also pointed out that delays also had come from the state, citing the example of the athletic building, which is basically complete.
“They’ve still been delaying our building permit,” he said. “We’re on our ninth month and we’re still waiting for them to approve the permit for the athletic building. Fortunately, we’ve been working with the inspector who allows us to continue with construction – but no permit, no occupancy.”
Bates attributed the delays by the state to its being short-staffed in the face of overwhelming demand.
He said the intent was to have the track done before the first football game, but the track installer had not yet confirmed a date: something which requires one and a half to two weeks lead time. Bates also said the first layer of asphalt had been laid around the building and that “it’s coming together,” but there would still be some inconveniences to deal with.
LaRock said bi-weekly project meetings had helped in keeping the project moving along, and that few changes were made to the original plan. One exception mentioned was the decision to refinish the auditorium floor.
“Those are the kind of decisions that reveal themselves as construction is taking place,” LaRock said. “We try, when we’re designing, to utilize existing conditions. We’re budget conscious and try to save what we can, but some of these things that reveal themselves are good to take care of. On these renovation projects, sometimes you just don’t know until you open the walls up.”
“They’re coming along and it’s looking good,” Foote said.
In Action Items, the Board moved to:
BULLET- Accept with regret the resignation of Tony Wood, high school/middle school shop teacher;
BULLET- Accept with regret the resignation of Ryan Biller, high school principal;
BULLET- Accept the recommendation to hire Sarah Rust as HCS Superintendent/School Board secretary;
BULLET- Approve the second reading of NEOLA policies 32-2;
BULLET- Accept the recommendation to hire Jason McCrimmon as high school/middle school shop teacher; and
BULLET- Approve the resolution/co-op agreement with Farwell Schools for skiing.
The Harrison Community Schools Board of Education will meet next at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 in the Board Room at 224 W. Main St. in Harrison.
The End of an Era
By Dave Minor
And it is, with Harrison High School being remodeled and actually getting “true” walls now. Almost all of the gaudy orange cabinets, tacky yellowish half-wall partitions, and brown faux wood cabinets are gone, to be replaced by modern ones. “Everything old is new again,” thanks to the community supporting the bond issue a year or so ago. I’m sure there’ll be a remnant here or there from the past once we get settled back in to the building in early September, but for the most part it’ll look at lot different at HHS.
During the cleaning out process, we’ve found old dittoes from the 1970s and ’80s, film strips and cassette tapes used for stories, an old typewriter, and more. Going through my desk recently, I found a folder full of old notes, thank you cards from others, and even discipline reports on former students.
Pictures of students I found (having in the past taken individual pictures of each student) often were moms and dads of some I have now. When I showed some of these to current students, perhaps it made them realize that their parents also had to go the “trials and tribulations” of high school, too.
As a clean-shaven student teacher of 1984, I was occasionally mistaken for a student, while now the gray (white, really) in my mustache and on the sides of my head might make me look like a pupil’s grandpa. There was one student last year (whom I didn’t have in class) whose step-grandpa I had when I started. So, it’s been a while. The cleaning/purging of old “stuff” for me generated memories, good and not-so-good of my 30-some years here. I imagine it’s happened to other staff who’ve been here a while, too.
Some of those who were there then or soon after during the move from the previous high school building (today Hillside) to the wall-less “Open Concept” HHS in 1974 include Wylie Sullivan (history teacher and later counselor), Mary Jane Ogg and Linda Robinson (English), Diane Wood (speech and drama), Nancy Skop (social studies), Bruce (“Bird”) Brandon (government/economics and track coach), Dick Harris (social studies/football coach), Bill Pifer (science and computers), , Kurt Kickbush and Judy Rzepka (business/typing), Mike Roberts (shop), Terin Wales (math), Shelly Greer (art), Scott Savara (drafting) and others, all of whom are retired now.
Principals who were here in the past include John Tobey and Jim Rosencrans and then Dale Barr, and of course Tom House who worked for the school system for close to four decades. Long-serving coaches (also teachers) some will remember besides Harris and Brandon are C.C. Hilliard, Dave Rowe, Brian Schmittner, Bill Mishler, Mike Petrongelli, Ron McCulloch, Karen Bolton, Mary Duvall, and Jim Cooper (also A.D.), among others.
For those who don’t know, because of the burgeoning population coming “Up North” (partly to escape the city, partly for the cheaper housing in converted cabins), Harrison Community Schools looked into a bond issue in the late ’60s but it didn’t pass initially. Then, with a scaled-down version (no walls in the high school or in Larson), it was funded, and construction commenced, with the move-in around January 1974.
I remember Mr. Harris and Mr. Brandon mentioning on drives to football games when I’d videotape for them that the learning was different then, too. Students were supposed to be more “independent,” choose what units to study, basically go at their own pace using packets. At first, I guess back in the mid ’70s the teacher didn’t “stand at the front of the room and lecture” like you’d assume was done back then (and even now to an extent). You’re seeing a push to that once again, with online schooling where students work at their own pace, with some control over what units they do, and even to an extent in traditional high schools.
Educational shifts are big right now in Michigan, as I just read in an article in The Detroit News that they want our state to get out of the old-fashioned learning mode. Project-based curriculum, group discussion, and individual choice for kids is what they think will better get them ready for the working world. We’ve come almost full circle again, just like with the building (as the high school was a traditional one in the 1950s).
Some of the changes I’ve seen in the 34 years since I started here including:
Switching from semesters to trimesters and back again…partial wall dividers put in the halls when the new Middle School was built (1996)…the gain and loss of sports like Golf and Wrestling, extra-curricular activities like Forensics, Mock Trial, Key Club, and more.
HHS had two separate newspaper and yearbook classes, more drama and drafting courses, and even home economics and others that aren’t offered anymore due to our smaller enrollment. We had the decorating of areas before going back to having a homecoming parade with floats, Mock Rock (which is a Talent Show now), Senior Plays with Tom Ducham and Brandon, and more.
Harris/Bird told me that during the move from the old high school, “Students grabbed boxes in the morning, got on the bus, unloaded them, and right away started class that afternoon!”
Ours this past spring also were very helpful moving things to the storage containers, throwing old junk out, and helping box up materials for our classrooms and the rest of the school. “Do you need anything moved to the storage pods, Mr. Minor?” they’d ask at the beginning of the hour. While it got a bit chaotic and hard to get a lot of learning accomplished that last week, students and staff know it’ll be worth it to have basically a new school building this fall.
So, everything old becomes new again when we start the 2018-2019 school year. It’ll feel that way for a few weeks or months at HHS. It hopefully will get students to be more positive about learning and the environment around them. There likely will still be some of the same difficulties we’ve always faced, though. We’ll have to do our best to work with a few unmotivated students, with those who come from little and are just basically trying to “survive,” and the normal loss of steam that occurs when the school year drags a bit before spring break.
The echoes of those who were here back in the post-Vietnam age thinking of “free their minds” probably are still here, just covered over with bright new materials and structures. They too hoped for better educational results, a better school for their students and their community.
Who knows, maybe 50 years from now the walls will come tumbling back down when one more “new” educational theory comes around by then. (But let’s hope not.)
Editor, Clare County Cleaver
P O Box 436, 183 W. Main Street
Harrison, Michigan 48625
A Second Peek at Schools Project Progress
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
HARRISON – The Harrison High School-Middle School campus was a literal beehive of activity on the first day of August, which is when Harrison Community Schools Superintendent Rick Foote took the Cleaver on a second tour of the schools renovation project. The back lot had become a materials-dense staging zone for all the interior construction, and interior spaces were rapidly being enclosed as floor-to-ceiling masonry walls define all learning and office spaces.
“On average you’ve got 110 to 115 guys onsite every day now,” Foote said. “It looks a little different than the last time you were here; all the walls are done.”
Where there had been a vast open space and clear view from the front of the high school to the back, there now stand dozens of contained classrooms. There are two long hallways with classrooms down the center of the area, flanked by double rows of classrooms across the two hallways.
“We now have more classrooms than we have teachers,” Foote said. “And that’s a good thing.”
The walls were being erected for the new secure entries and the main vestibule entry at the high school. Unfortunately, the existing structure dictated that the stair-step entry into the office must remain, but there is ADA-compliant access available from one of the classroom hallways. The newly restructured office area will include ZZ individual offices, as well as the main office with a huge lobby area.
The wall demolition for the middle school security entrance into the office is complete and work on that structure was underway, as well.
New energy-efficient window installations were in varied stages of completion and firewall door locations had been established, one of which necessitated the relocation of one exterior egress door along the corridor connecting the high school to the media center. Those firewall doors will close automatically when the fire alarms go off.
Foote said the crews will be working under generator powered lighting for roughly the next two weeks.
Among the many changes to the buildings will be security access.
“There will be only six doors on the entire building that will have either a key fob or a swipe card to get in,” he said. “Everything else will be egress only.”
Throughout the building, masonry work was rapidly being completed, and primer coat painting was being done. It was decided that having visual continuity would require painting not only the block walls but also the brick work. Also, color would come in with the new lockers which will be mounted along the hallway walls. Much of the work is completed in the auditorium It now sports the restful neutral gray paint which will be used in the rest of the building. Foote said the gray walls will be accented with blue as was done in the gym.
The seating tiers had yet to be painted. Foote said that to avoid any potential for damage, the last things to be installed in the auditorium will be the 239 theater seats (that number was misstated as 439 in the previous update article). The auditorium will also include acoustical panels in royal blue and gold.
“The curtains and the seats will be the last things to go in here,” he said. “They’ll probably go in the week before we start school.”
On tour day, one of the new exterior doors was being installed in the gym, where Foote said the floor would be sanded down and given a whole new finish – much needed after all the concrete and demolition grit that had been flying around and being ground in. The floor finishers are scheduled to begin that work the week of Aug. 13.
The new food service lines along the now-doubled kitchen area, plus a free-standing double-sided service line, will facilitate not only better service to students, but also faster acquisition of meals – no small thing when lunch time schedules are tight.
In the entry lobby there is a wide two-sided display wall which will afford trophy display on the entry doors side, and display space for student art and more on the side facing the dining area.
Work continued out in the parking lot, where curbing directs bus drop-off traffic flow. On tour day, there were multiple trucks and loaders onsite working to ensure proper grade in preparation for paving. Foote said was the base coat for the parking lot was expected to be done in about one week.
He also pointed out that there would be parking lot lighting, but that there would be no light poles within the lot to impede snow plowing.
In touring the newly installed middle school and high school boilers, Foote voiced his eagerness to see the new energy bills as great savings are anticipated as a result of the many energy-savings measures incorporated in the project. He also it was amazing to see how much smaller the new boilers are than the old ones.
“They actually fit through the door,” he said.
As with any construction project, there are schedules and deadlines with each component relying on the completion of the previous component. It truly is an orchestrated effort, and as would be expected, Foote is a bit anxious about the looming Aug. 31 final inspection deadline. That inspection must be passed in order to ensure there is adequate time to move in all the classroom and office furnishings in time for the Sept. 10 start of classes.
Hundreds of students, parents, teachers and staff are eager to see this project completed. And with the whole community watching – no pressure, right?
Schools Renovation Slightly Ahead of Schedule
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
HARRISON – Harrison Community Schools Superintendent Rick Foote took some time last Thursday morning to give Cleaver readers a chance to check out some of the progress made thus far on the renovation work being done at Harrison High School and the Harrison Middle School.
The tour started with a quick look around the middle school, where much of the work is actually unseen: wiring, security and lighting upgrades. Much of the work is hiding behind walls and the new ceiling tiles. Work at the middle school began over spring break, so the much-needed wall top-to-ceiling closure has already been accomplished. On the tour, Foote pointed out that some of the carpet tile flooring had been laid down: a dark blue with a gold stripe in each square. He reminded that the carpet tiles will make it a simple matter to replace any portions that may become damaged than if large areas of carpet had to be pulled up.
The middle school office had been emptied of all furniture and the flooring ripped out, readying for the new entrance which will be part of the new security measures at the school. A similar secure entrance will be installed at the high school as well.
Moving on through the Media Center revealed plastic-protected book shelves and wide-open spaces – areas which will accommodate staging of materials to be used once the hard surfaces, plumbing, wiring and painting work are done.
Walking along the corridor which connects the Media Center to the high school, one can look out to where the parking lot used to be and get a sense of how complete the changes to the campus will be – from concrete to classrooms to cars. It was fortunate that much of the landscaping near the entrance to the middle school has thus far remained mostly untouched.
It is in the high school proper, however, where the true beehive of activity is happening. The area which had contained the open concept classrooms is now a single, vast space with the remaining brick clad pillars seeming to hold up the whole shebang. There also are lots of plumbing pipes sticking up from the floor where new bathrooms will be installed. Part of that work includes cutting floor concrete, which has resulted in patching, lots of floor sanding, and lots of concrete dust. The ceilings have all been taken out, leaving the steel girders supporting corrugated roofing. Areas can be seen where insulating spray foam has been applied: lots and lots of foam. There were areas above some of the existing walls which Foote said originally had little to no insulation. It is obvious that all the upgrades to the heating and cooling equipment, coupled with the addition of vestibule airlock entries and the intensely efficient insulation being applied will result in substantial operational savings for the district.
It is worth noting that all this work was being done under lights powered by a generator, as all power to the building had been cut off for the construction.
A new exterior block room adjacent to the gym is being constructed to house water flow control.
Due to a lack of electrical service to the gym, Foote was unable to show off the work which has been completed in t here. He said the gym work was largely completed, with painting having been done – not to fear, the Hornet mural remains intact and may see some professional fine-tuning in the future to ensure its longevity. Foote said the gym floor will be getting sanded shortly and will get sealed in August.
The project also brings to an end more than 40 years of locker pits; the pits have been filled in and lockers will be moved to walls, opening up spaces both visually and physically.
Foote said the kitchen area has doubled in size, and that additional pantry space off the hall outside the kitchen will provide ample, convenient storage where deliveries can be received without entry into the kitchen.
Lots of work is also being done in the classroom areas on the end of the building as well. The high school music room is being refurbished and will be brought back into use [students had been going to the middle school music room]. And a huge safety issue has been addressed in the art room: a block wall kiln room has been constructed which has the potential to house two kilns. The art room also will be a larger, non-partitioned space where thoughts and ideas can float freely, ready to take root in creative minds.
One of the most dramatic changes has to be the re-imagined auditorium space. What had been an open area in front of a stage has become an enclosed room with slant theater seating for 439 people. The upholstered flip-up seats are already on the premises ready to be placed as soon as all painting and wiring is complete. The room is wired, and dozens of drop wires are in place to accommodate directional lighting, and balanced sound. The stage will need to be sanded and sealed, but when the seats get installed and the curtains hung, this new auditorium will have all the trappings of an Off-Broadway venue.
The accompanying photos only hint at all the work which has been done at the schools, but Foote said he would likely invite the Cleaver back for another look in a couple weeks or so. That’s the way it is with projects of such magnitude. There is great upheaval, but once things start being put back together, change comes in leaps and bounds.
Demo, Reno Moving Forward
Ground Broken for Schools Renovation Project
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
HARRISON – The Harrison Community Schools construction and technology upgrade project has been a long time on the drawing board. Work to raise classroom wall height in the middle school was done over spring break, and preliminary work has begun at the high school with the enclosing and remodeling of the auditorium, along with work in unused portions of the building. It has been nearly a year since passage of the school bond millage, and the ball that started rolling then has consistently picked up speed and is now poised to explode into a frenzy of work once school lets out for the summer. That work is slated for completion by the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
A great deal of behind-the-scenes diligence went into the successful outcome of the bond election, and many of the key players in that effort gathered April 19 at Harrison High School for an official groundbreaking ceremony. Attendees included school administrators, educators, members of the Step Up for Our Kids Committee, the HCS Board of Education, building designers and contractors, and others who are involved with student education and safety.
Board members and some Step Up members were presented with bright red construction helmets inscribed with their names. All seemed to appreciate the recognition which that ascribed.
HCS Superintendent Rick Foote addressed the crowd, acknowledging all the cooperative effort required to bring the project into reality.
“Today is our official groundbreaking day,” Foote said. “Three years of a lot of hard work and planning. A lot of hard work by the Board and the citizens committee to pull off the great, great thing that happened last May. Almost a year ago we got great news in this community, and I just want to thank each and every one of you with the Step Up Committee that went out and worked on this. There were a lot of key individuals that did this. I want to thank the Board and also Mr. House who set me up with this three years ago, on his way out the door. Thank you all for being here.”
In short order it was time for the shiny silver shovels to do their symbolic work, and the Board members dug in.
After the ceremony, participants and attendees were invited into the high school to look over the current construction work and the changes which had been made thus far.
To stay informed on the progress of the project, photos are being posted on the school’s web page and Facebook page.