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‘No gym? No problem!’ Providence school rolls with its renovation

September 13th, 2014 Posted in Education

Story and photos by Jared Dangerfield

PROVIDENCE— Not only have students at Providence Elementary School had to adjust from summer break to class this year, they’ve also had to cope with holes in the walls — the extensive renovation of their school. Over the summer, the school gym and cafeteria were demolished because of seismic and safety concerns.

School Principal Trudy Wilson was there when the section was torn down, and said when it came down, she could tell it was old and time for a much needed renovation.

“The benefits are going to be a safe building for the students,” Wilson said.

Good attitudes make a big difference when you’re living through a renovation. Photo by Jared Dangerfield.

So with no gym to have physical exercise, students are going outdoors with Holly Tribett, the P.E. specialist, to get their exercise. Tribett says although she thought the changes were going to be dreadful, she has found ways to overcome the obstacles.

“It has forced us out of our comfort zones,” she said. “But in some ways we are getting more exercise now than we were before.”

For now with the weather being favorable, Tribett says making adjustments hasn’t been too bad. Where they used to do laps around the gym, she says they now walk around the border of the school yard and play interactive games outside. When it starts to get colder, they will move P.E. time into the teachers’ classrooms.

“Most of the challenges will come when the weather turns,” Tribett said. “I have a lot of classroom games, and sometimes you can incorporate the desks into activities. It is going to be a challenge; some classrooms have so many desks that even if we move them there is still not a lot of room.”

Students have P.E. time once a week for 40 minutes, and Tribbett hopes that when the temperatures drop they will still be able to make the most out of the time.

“We will still try to go outside in the winter, whether it’s building snowmen or playing snow games,” she said. “I’m just working on my creativity, I’m digging into my resourcefulness.”

As for school lunches, those are being prepared at nearby Millville Elementary School, then brought over in a van and set up in an empty classroom. The students come to the classroom to pick up their lunches, but now instead of eating in a cafeteria they take their lunches back to their classrooms.

Future site of the new cafeteria, gym, kindergarten classrooms, music room and computer lab. Photo by Jared Dangerfield.

Stephanie Skewes, lunch manager for the school, is optimistic. She says dealing with the renovation has not been as bad as she expected it was going to be. She says her team has been a great help and the students don’t seem to mind the changes.

Skewes has a poster hung up in the temporary cafeteria that says, “My attitude matters, I am a patient person, I am highly motivated, I am a hard worker, I am very happy, I get to go to work.” She says it is a good reminder for her and her team to have a positive outlook on the construction process and to hope for the best.

“We knew going into the year, it would be a challenging year,” Wilson said. “Teachers knew that, parents knew that and kids knew that and we’re just doing it. There isn’t another option, you could be grouchy about it, or just make the best of it, and were making the best of it.”

When the renovation is complete, the new area will contain a computer lab, kindergarten classroom, music room, gym and cafeteria. The project is expected to be finished before the start of the 2015 fall school year.

NW

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