Faculty, parents and students gathered Tuesday evening at Blue Ridge Elementary School to celebrate the school’s recently completed $1.2 million renovation project.
The renovation is one of the largest projects completed in the district this year, Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said in an email. It was paid for with district capital project funds.
The school was established over 50 years ago, in 1966. The project gave it an extensive makeover, including security updates, asbestos abatement, fresh paint and new doors, flooring, ceilings, cabinets, shades and whiteboards.
Blue Ridge Principal Mark Burlison said security updates include a new security system and new doors. A vestibule, which is a small room at the front of the school around the entrance, has also been added, creating a single point of entry.
Kindergarten teacher Taylor Morales said the renovations have made a big difference in her classroom.
“Lots of our amenities last year that we had within our classrooms in the school were a lot older, so it was hard to utilize those,” she said. “Everything is just fresh, clean and new, and it’s awesome.”
In addition to the Blue Ridge renovation, there were many other construction and building maintenance projects completed in the district over the summer, Baumstark said.
According to a report given to the Board of Education at a meeting earlier this month, other completed projects include improvements made at New Haven and Midway Heights elementary schools and Rock Bridge High School.
Baumstark said there is a large renovation project taking place at Oakland Middle School that will take two summers to complete. The project includes security updates and asbestos abatement.
“Our largest ongoing projects right now are the construction of the new middle school and the renovation and building addition at Locust Street Expressive Arts Elementary School,” she said.
The Blue Ridge project “is part of the district’s long-range facility plan to maintain and improve existing buildings,” Baumstark said.
Kristina Contrades, assistant principal at Blue Ridge, said the improvements have changed the way the kids view their school.
“It’s a lot more welcoming, and I think the kids take a lot more pride in the school because they feel like the community put a lot of work into it and we’ve talked a lot about it,” she said. “They were excited to come in that first day and see a brand-new school.”
Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.