Construction at SHS Goes Full STEAM Ahead

Lucy Brenner and David Peng

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Whether from the noise of construction or the speculation among students, many people have already noticed several new spaces being constructed around SHS. This new construction is designed to interest people with varying passions, from technology to athletics to robotics. “Each of the spaces provides an opportunity that the school was not able to offer as fully or to as wide of a range of people,” said Assistant Principal Chris Renino. However, the delays in building have prevented many of the spaces from providing SHS students with new opportunities during the 2017-18 school year.

The new fitness center, which opened in September, has already attracted many students with its sophisticated, high-tech equipment. This new area near the gyms was built to interest many types of students, whether they have years of athletic experience or none at all. “[The fitness center is] better than the old one from what I can see. A lot of new stuff, a lot better. It actually is more safe in some ways,” observed Tarif Sabur ’20, who frequently uses the fitness center.

The learning commons, an open space for students to meet and study, will cater to students who prefer a more active learning style and work best when talking and engaging with others. The new iLab, which will be housed near the learning commons, will be a high-tech space allowing students to explore a wide range of technological opportunities.

The design lab, built to replace the auto shop near the PE offices, will allow STEAM students to pursue their interests by using high tech machinery and engaging in pre planning and prototyping that previously wasn’t available. Thanks to the design lab, students will participate in activities such as woodworking or digital fabrication.

Although students often complain about construction noises during the school day, the effects of have not been as bad as many had feared. “The sound from construction hasn’t been loud enough for me to hear during my actual classes,” said Rachel Swartz ’20.

Even the classes directly adjacent to where some of the construction is happening report no significant impacts on learning. “I don’t think it’s affected my classes as much as I thought it might,” said SHS math teacher Adam Wagner, whose classroom is located across from the courtyard where drainage work has been taking place.  

Before the construction began, the administration placed air conditioners in the affected teachers’ rooms. “I can turn on the air conditioner to both keep the room cool with the windows closed and to block out the noise out there,” explained Wagner.

Recently, the drainage construction work in the courtyard has caused the most delays, especially regarding the design lab. The heavy machinery uses courtyard spaces needed for the design lab, so construction on the lab has been halted until the courtyard work has finished.

Despite the delays, all construction is now scheduled to be completed by the end of this school year. The fitness center is already up and running, while the iLab and learning commons set to open January 2nd, and the design lab’s target date is the start of second semester. “We had originally thought [the design lab] would be done a little bit sooner, but it’s not going to affect us at all, because the plan is still to be in there for second semester,” said SHS STEAM Teacher Lisa Yokana.

Though teachers haven’t reported any significant effects on their days, the delays did impact multiple groups in SHS. For example, first semester STEAM classes did not have the exciting opportunities to use new equipment that second semester students will get to explore. Moreover, this year’s seniors will have minimal time to utilize the new spaces, especially the design lab. Overall, although the delays in construction may not have had any direct impacts on the learning curriculums of teachers within SHS, many students will miss out on opportunities because of them. 

Update: The learning commons was set to open January 2. However, on the day of its expected opening, students were notified the learning commons would the opening was postponed to Monday, January 8. The librarians, anticipating the opening of the learning commons to be January 2, has already banned all food and drinks from the library and is strictly enforcing these rules. Students have reported struggling to find places to eat during their lunch.