It’s been a busy summer at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts as long-awaited renovation work started in ernest.
But, with school starting in a few weeks, don’t expect the “Pardon our dust ...” signs to come down anytime soon.
Work is expected to continue through the school year, through the summer of 2018 and during the 2018-19 school year before finishing in summer 2019.
“We’re excited,” Patapsco principal Craig Reed said. “It’s a lot of work, but our classrooms will look brand new. The school has been due for some upgrades, and we’re glad they’re coming.”
Over the summer, work was done on the main office, the health suite and a new entrance to the school building.
“The health suite has been made significantly larger,” Reed said. “It will be able to meet the needs of more students.”
The main office and health suite areas weren’t exactly leveled, Reed said, but all the walls were moved to new locations.
“It looks like a completely different space,” he said.
Previously, traffic entered Patapsco High off of Inverness Avenue. The new entrance is off of Wise Avenue.
People used to enter the building from the side, near the auditorium, and faced a long walk to the main office. Now, foot traffic from the parking area is led directly to the entrance at the main office (the one with the anchor sitting outside).
“People would park, come in and wonder where the main office was,” Reed said. “Now, instead of wandering and looking for the main office, they’ll enter directly at the main office.”
The school also has new lights, new power and new air conditioning. Partial air conditioning; it’s being installed in phases, and by the end of the renovations, the entire building will have air conditioning.
Classrooms and hallways are being upgraded with new lockers, new doors, new lights, drop ceiling and new floor tiles.
Old-style chalkboards are being replaced with new “teaching walls”: whiteboards upon which teachers can mount projectors or monitors and enable more technology to be used in teaching.
As the classroom renovations are still underway, arrangements had to be made for displaced classes.
The school’s “First Hall” is currently being worked on, so 16 new relocatable classrooms have been added to the school.
The new temporary building is within the school’s footprint, occupying the open space in the courtyard off of Langport Avenue, past the Black Box theatre.
It’s one large structure, a 16-classroom temporary building with lockers, a ceiling, restrooms and eight classrooms on each side.
It is a modular unit; the building, previously at Pikesville High, arrived at Patapsco in sections and was assembled on the site.
“It has the look and feel of one huge building,” Reed said.
Over the course of the school year, some of the classrooms in the first hall will start to under renovation, causing classes to be relocated to the temporary building.
Teachers will move, and as the renovation progresses and classrooms are completed, they’ll move back in.
“It will be a little bit of a shuffle for us,” Reed said. “As rooms are renovated, teachers will return to their rooms.”
As noted, the renovation will continue during the school year, with minimal construction being done during the day, and mainly light work such as re-wiring. There won’t be any heavy construction — no jackhammers or anything similar — while students are in the building. It will mostly take place during the second shift.
Patapsco High, which opened in 1963, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. Outside of the construction of Betty Brown Edwards Field a few years ago, this is the first significant renovation the school has undergone since its opening.
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