Burrell School District maintenance workers, custodial staff, and teachers rolled up their sleeves and transformed the outdated high school and middle school spaces into high-functioning learning areas that benefit students and the community.
The improvements now enjoyed by students include a renovated Home Economics classroom at Burrell High School and a newly designed outdoor courtyard at Charles A. Huston Middle School. Facilities Director David Ploskunak said his staff, along with other district employees, did the work over the course of a couple of months.
"We did it all," Ploskunak said.
Ploskunak said he is proud of the work district employees performed on the two renovation projects. These improvements offer students an enhanced learning space with an updated design for Home Economics at the high school and a mingling and study area for students to enjoy at the middle school.
The high school Home Economics room, built in the 1950s or 1960s with the construction of the school, now has five kitchens in the learning space redesigned with teachers’ needs in mind. The one kitchen that workers added from the earlier design is used as the demonstration kitchen. The renovation included new ceiling tiles, lights, ceiling fans, new appliances, and cabinets.
Additional improvements included new duct work and venting in the kitchen areas and lots of storage space throughout the classroom. Ploskunak said the workers also added an upgrade of a butcher block countertop in the teaching area.
The improvements also included access for disabled students to one of the kitchens and new pull hardware for the cabinets, each set a different color to help define the workspace. Previously, educators used different colors of paper in each kitchen to distinguish the workspaces for students.
Three maintenance workers performed the work, including a 30-year district veteran, another with HVAC experience, and the third with experience as an electrician. Two custodians and two teachers also helped, he said. "These guys are really good," Ploskunak said.
At Huston Middle, students are enjoying a newly designed courtyard renovation that breathes new life into a once-overgrown space that was far less inviting. The school district workers transformed an overgrown outdoor space into a 50' x 50' enclosed area that is now "more kid-friendly," Ploskunak said. The workers performed improvements, such as clearing weeds and debris and creating three planting beds to serve as gardens that are lined with soil fabric and pea gravel.
The intent was to make the outdoor space more useful and inviting to students and the community, and it appears the district workers succeeded in their efforts. Huston Principal Brian Ferra said the courtyard offers "students and teachers an outdoor space for gathering." He said it also gives students an outdoor space they can take ownership of by planting flowers, decorating, and generally just making it their space.