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$7 million project spruces up 31-year-old Pa. school

August 30, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Librarian Jane Bodenberg stands in her temporary library Tuesday afternoon at Mercersburg Elementary School.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Crews are working feverishly to make the construction zone that is Mercersburg Elementary School presentable for the approximately 280 students in kindergarten through fifth grade who will start school in less than a week.

Mercersburg Principal Lura Hanks said the school off Park Avenue in Mercersburg was inspected and approved for occupancy on Tuesday.

The main doors at the front of the building have been removed and replaced by particleboard to be replaced with a new, secure entrance in several weeks, Hanks said.

The carpeting in the hallways has been removed so students will walk on concrete slab flooring. The drop ceiling has been removed so students will see wires overhead.

"When you first come in it's a shock, because it's not what you expect. But once you get over the initial shock, you'll see it's not that bad," Hanks said. "We can't offer a beautiful environment to start on the outside. But, once you step into the classroom we have teachers that have been planning all summer and who are ready to get started."

The $7 million project includes upgrading all mechanical systems at the elementary school —providing the school and all 13 classrooms with air conditioning for the first time — and revamping the building to accommodate the central office currently on Seminary Street in Mercersburg.

The project does not increase the square footage of the building or the classrooms, according to school officials.

Hanks said once the project is complete in August 2012, it will include: renovated classrooms, new mechanical system throughout the building, renovated library, art and music rooms, an intervention room/enrichment room (provides additional services for students who need help academically), reading room, special education room, intermediate unit room, cafeteria/gym and new entrance.

According to school officials, this is the first time the elementary school has been renovated since it was built in 1980.

Hanks said a lot of the "hard stuff" was done this summer.

"There's no drilling and no loud noises at all during the school day. That will be done on second shift," Hanks said.

All construction areas will be completely sealed off so dust will not be an issue, Hanks said.

"All summer long, we had an air quality person at the school monitoring the air in the building," she said.

Hanks said the air quality will continue to be monitored.

"It's a construction zone but the area being worked on will be secured with no access to the children, learning will not be impacted at all. In fact, teachers are very excited about our literacy curriculum and new materials in the classroom," Hanks said.

She said once they get past the hallway and into the actual classroom students will come into what's familiar to them.

"We're extremely confident and eager for the year to start," Hanks said.

Mercersburg Elementary School Librarian Jane Bodenberg has transformed two classrooms into the school's temporary library.

It took Bodenberg and library assistants Cindy Defibaugh, Diane Linowski, Sue Hollenshead and Sherri Griffith two days to find a home for 8,500 books in the new rooms in the school.

Bodenberg doesn't think students will have any trouble adjusting to the "new look" at Mercersburg Elementary School.

"I don't think there are major concerns. I think what they're going to find that things are really going to be as much as normal as what we've had it," she said.

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