Hickman students adapt to upgrades

Thursday, September 23, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:21 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hickman High School students have been forced to find new routes to class to avoid ongoing renovations blocking the school’s main hallway.

And while the renovations also have caused classes to switch to different rooms, school officials say students are adjusting to the changes.

“The teachers and the classes are the important pieces, not the shuffling around,” said Doug Mirts, assistant principal at Hickman.

The Columbia Board of Education on Sept. 13 awarded Environmental Engineering and GBH Builders the contract to renovate classrooms and hallways and to install a new heating and air conditioning service at Hickman.

The project also calls for a new corridor ceiling, replacement of most windows in the main building, flooring, work on doors and lockers and new auditorium seating.

A $22.5 million bond package, passed in April, will pay for the renovations, which are expected to be finished Aug. 15, 2005. The bulk of the renovations to windows, doors, hallways and lockers won’t take place until summer.Mirts said the builders will have to wait to tackle those areas until after the end of the school year. The contractors were chosen from three bidders. Jacque Cowherd, deputy superintendent, said the board chose Environmental Engineering’s low bid for $7.03 million. The highest was $7.49 million.

Mirts said the renovations have not affected incoming sophomore students, but they did surprise some returning juniors and seniors.

“The other two-thirds juniors and seniors) had to do some behavior modifications,” Mirts said. “We kind of had to show them other ways to get around.”

New routes to class aren’t the only concerns Hickman students have. The school must shuffle its classes throughout the school year so that the builders can access certain areas without obstruction.

Two social studies classes, a physiology class and a couple of science classes already have moved to other areas within the school. More classes will be shuffled later this year. Mark Blount, a social studies teacher at Hickman for the past 20 years, said most of the work involves gutting the ceiling and installing new air conditioning ducts. Construction has not been a problem for his classes or the students, Blount said.

“I see (construction workers) in-between classes when the hallways are virtually empty,” Blount said. “The construction workers give the kids priority.”

Blount credited the administration at Hickman for keeping the rest of the staff informed about the renovations. Before the school year began, teachers also signed up for the days they would be shuffled in and out of classrooms, Blount said.

“It will be worth it in the long run,” he said. “I’ll celebrate.”

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