Scientific Renovation

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By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 21, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Winnacunnet High School junior Matt Varney, 17, helps move old shelves out of a science classroom as the school readies its new science and math wing. [Photo by Jamie Cohen]

HAMPTON -- Students can kiss a few of their cold modular classrooms goodbye next Monday as they move into the new science and math wing at Winnacunnet High School.

Teachers who have been sharing space will no longer have to tote books and supplies around, "a la cart."

Administrators will have a spacious and airy front office, not one located in the middle of a hallway.

It’s a move everyone has been looking forward to since the wing it replaces was torn down last April.

The opening of the new, 25-room science and math department at the high school is another big step in the completion of the $26 million construction and renovation project.

On Friday, teachers -- not only those who teach math and science but others -- as well as Junior ROTC and student volunteers, moved books, boxes, desks and equipment into sparkling clean rooms.

Thirteen of the new rooms will house the school’s 13 science teachers. Until this week, many had shared the original seven science classrooms built when the school was new in 1963, plus another three rooms, which had since converted for science instruction. Space was needed to house not only the expanding student population, now at more than 1,300 students, but a growing science curriculum as well.

The new larger rooms have space enough to hold both lab equipment and desks, and in two cases, a greenhouse.

John Croteau, an anatomy, physiology and biology instructor, will use the greenhouse to study plants and aquaculture, the study of fish.

Most importantly, teachers will no longer have to take down experiments and projects to make room for the next class.

{Photo left, Math teacher J.J. Shivell is looking forward to trading a modular classroom for a room in the new WHS science and math wing. [Photo by Jamie Cohen]}

"I haven’t had a classroom in four years," said biology teacher Steve Bauer, who has worked with a mobile classroom. "It’s going to be very exciting to just stay put. There’s a lot more room, modern facilities, wiring. Labs along the wall free up space for seating, no more rearranging of tables."

"I am thrilled," said science teacher Cathy Silver, who formerly shared a room with chemistry and oceanography teacher Heather Clark. "I’ll be able to set up demonstrations, experiments, that will stay set up. I’ll be able to keep projects going day to day."

Another 12 classrooms will hold the math department.

"I’ve been in a trailer for five years," said math teacher J.J. Shivell. "It’s not terrible, it’s not ideal. It doesn’t matter what you do, Block 1 is always cold. This is nice, it’s going to be enjoyable."

Being in a wing instead of a trailer, means a more cohesive department, according to math teacher Christine Karmen.

"It’s nice to be closer to math teachers for communication," she said.

Not all of the school’s trailers are going away with the opening of the new wing as construction is ongoing.

Once the math and science teachers are completely out of their old rooms, the 1963-era wing will be closed off and made into English classrooms.

The school renovation not only gives students needed space, it provides the aesthetic benefit of anything bright and new, beginning with the front entrance now located in the new wing.

"I’ve been in this building for 23 years. I’ve heard teachers say it makes a world of difference to kids to move into a new building," said Assistant Principal Kris Oswald, who is in charge of the science department. "It gives the staff and student body something to be proud of."

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