Construction at South progresses despite pandemic

Photo illustration by Millie Diaz/Photos by Emma Crosson

As Maine South in-person instruction came to a halt last year, the construction work continued full steam ahead. With the building vacant, several improvements were made to each part of the school that students will be able to enjoy as in-person learning continues. Southwords got a behind-the-scenes view of our new and improved school, including renovations in the A-wing, the new B-wing, C-wing, V-wing, and athletic departments. 

 

A-wing: 

The renovated A-wing is expected to be completed by August 2021. New colors have already been added to the A-wing hallways. 

“The colors are pastels with greys, purples, blues, and teals,” Principal Dr. Ben Collins said.  “The colors are essentially the same on each floor–it’s basically a spread of different greys that are mixed in a pattern.” 

In the new A-wing, many of the same subjects will still hold classes there. 

“In A-wing, you’ll have science, mathematics, English, social science, world languages, and some special education,” Dr. Collins said. 

Newly opened, the extension to the back hallway will directly connect the A-wing to the B-wing, enclosing the previous outdoor sidewalk and fully surrounding what used to be a cut-through courtyard north of the A-wing. This hallway will stretch from the A-wing to the north faculty parking lot. 

“That’ll be a really nice space for you guys to walk through and then imagine when you round the corner [of the east end of the A-wing]  you’ll be able to look all the way down the school,” Dr. Collins said. “It should look really really sharp.”

As many students may remember, the old air conditioning units were noisy and took up quite a bit of classroom space.  These have been removed in a number of A-wing classes, while the remaining units are scheduled to be removed soon. Air testing and balancing of the thermostats will be conducted in all classrooms.

“They’re putting a new air filtration system in the whole school,” Dr. Collins said. “This system is expected to be finished by Dec. 14.” 

 

B-wing:

In place of the old main office, new art, photo, business, and child development classrooms can be accessed from this hallway. New lightweight desks will also be added in each classroom to create a more comfortable environment for students. (Photo by Emma Crosson)

In place of the old main office and tech offices, the new B-wing is one part of the school where some of the most concrete changes can be seen thus far. New spaces including art, photo, business, and child development have been added. 

Unique features can be noticed in each room: a pottery and dark room space for art students, and a functioning, child-sized bathroom for preschool students. 

“There are also two new business rooms and a new room for student conferences,” Dr. Collins said. 

Just south of the LRC, where the Language Lab used to be, the academic support center has taken on a more open-concept format, including each department in a single room. 

“They ripped out all of the hallway and a lot of the walls, and added two new conference rooms,” Dr. Collins said. “So, it will be where [the students] come for academic support, but it will be one massive space.”

A focus on practicality and comfort is apparent in the updated classroom furniture. 

“The brand-new furniture includes smaller, lightweight desks, and chairs that are much more comfortable and easier to move,” Dr. Collins said.

The B-wing also provides space for students to enjoy free time and take a break from school work. 

“It will be a nice place to hang,” Dr. Collins said. “We will put in some soft furniture and a big screen T.V. for students to go to during their off periods.”

Although many of these rooms are currently in use, there are some minor details still left to complete. 

 

C-Wing: 

Cubicles line the new teacher workspace, which used to be the extended cafeteria. Designed for collaboration, there are several conference rooms and other small gathering areas. (Photo by Emma Crosson)

Although the C-Wing has essentially the same footprint, there have been a lot of changes. 

“There were study hall rooms in C-134 and C-140, but those are gone,” Dr. Collins said. “Now it’s a big office area for the teachers. In the demolition, the only thing that stayed were the two student bathrooms [off the back hallway].” 

This change allows for all the teachers to have one area with kitchen spaces, meeting rooms, and more. It also puts teachers in a central location so that students can do less running around the building hoping to cross paths with a teacher. This office is done with the exception of the glass door. 

The rest of the C-Wing is not as complete as the teacher area. Some work needs to be done to fully complete the wing. 

Eventually, they’ll drop a ceiling to make [the new hallways] look finished. They’ll rip out the floor and put new flooring in,” Dr. Collins said.

The school also switched to new LED lights in the C-Wing, and there are plans to bring in more natural light.  

“A lot of the skylights in this school were built over or glazed over, and we’re trying to open all that back up,” Dr. Collins said.

 

V-wing: 

The new cafeteria is in the location of the old art courtyard and art classrooms. A new roof has been added that allows natural light to enter the area. (Photo by Emma Crosson)

The fine arts rooms that were once part of the V-wing have been relocated to the north side of the building. In their place, the new V-wing consists of a new cafeteria and student services area. 

The new cafeteria will be in the area that the courtyard and old art classrooms were. The courtyard will be integrated into the cafeteria, as the concrete steps have been removed and a roof has been added above the surrounding roof line, allowing natural light to reach the area and create a more open environment. It will also be about triple the size of the current cafeteria. 

“You’ve got the old kitchens, which were moved, and the old fashion room and the old preschool room, are already moved and ready to rock over [in the B-wing],” Dr. Collins said. 

Furthermore, right off the south end of the cafeteria is going to be the entrance to student services. This will give students direct access to their counselors and this area will also house the new Main Office

 

Sports:

Athletic and Physical Education facilities will also be seeing big changes during this phase of construction. 

Both the fieldhouse and the back gym will be renovated with minor additions, while places like the fitness center and both the dance and wrestling rooms will be moving to completely new locations. The old cafeteria will serve as the new home for all three of the previously named facilities. The fitness center will take up the west end of the cafeteria, the wrestling room in the middle, and the new dance room will reside in the east side of the old cafeteria. 

The new fitness center will be completely upgraded, and will also provide significantly more natural light compared to the original isolated location, with wall-to-wall windows similar to those already in place in the old cafeteria. 

“The new fitness center will be huge and accommodate multiple PE classes and have space for more student athletes to lift after school–it will look so much better than the current cage,” Dr. Collins said. 

The space left by the current wrestling and dance rooms will provide extra space for the renovated field house and back gym, respectively. 

“The current dance studio will turn into storage and a balcony for spectators,” Dr. Collins said.

Big changes to the dance room include an immense increase in size, and a drastic positive change in ceiling height. This will allow for groups like the cheerleaders and Hawkettes to also take advantage of the new facility, which will simultaneously free up space in the fieldhouse and gyms. 

“The fieldhouse will have a new floor and we are adding basketball courts and hoops,” Dr. Collins said. “The back gym will become the gymnastics gym so that will look completely different.”

In the end, the construction is not only about remodeling the school, but also about revamping the school image. 

“It shouldn’t reflect just one group the whole time,” Dr. Ben Collins said. “You shouldn’t walk through the school and only see athletes. You shouldn’t walk through the school and only see fine arts stuff. It should feel like it’s everybody’s building.”

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