I know very little about construction or building things; I’m really more of an observer/consumer by nature.  So when a building is being constructed, renovated, upfitted, or what-have-you, my paradigm is that unless I can see walls, doors, or windows going up, nothing happened.

Hopefully the stall doors aren’t on back-order.

And that’s why until very recently, I was incredibly nervous that our school building wouldn’t be done in time for school to open next month.  I was told that our contractors  – who built Raleigh Charter’s new building last year – are the best in the business and would not overpromise on the deadline, and I know they must’ve been doing wiring, duct work, ventilation, etc., but I had no tangible evidence that led me to believe that we’d have a school building in August.

Until this week.

These contractors, to quote one anonymous RTHS official, “do not screw around.”  Except he didn’t say “screw.”  The point is, in the last week our shell of a strip mall has started to look like a school, and that has caused my already-high level of excitement to go through the newly-installed ceiling.  And so, without further adieu, here’s how Research Triangle High School is looking just two and a half weeks from opening.

Our front entryway getting its final coat of paint.

THE FRONT ENTRANCE

Instead of a separate main office with a door that you would find in most schools, we’re going to have more of a reception desk in our main lobby.  That area, seen in the picture at left, will be staffed by Mila Presutti, our stellar office manager, and assorted parent volunteers.  The doorway off to the right of the desk is where one can find the administrative offices, teacher bathrooms, storage, and probably the copier.  I’m a big fan of how open this area feels (the floor-to-ceiling glass windows help that along), and I think it will help make visitors to our school feel very welcome, and it gives us plenty of room to store files and expand as we add more students in the next three years.

The gallery, with cloud ceilings and carpet installed.

THE GALLERY

What a difference two weeks makes.  In a recent blog post, I included this picture of what our gallery, or main commons area, looked like at the time.  It was basically a shell at the time; it now has carpet laid down, fresh paint on all the walls, and a pretty neat ceiling arrangement the contractors have called a “cloud ceiling.”  The ceiling tiles are designed to cover the more aesthetically unpleasing pipes, ducts, and tubes, but some of the ceiling will be exposed.  The lighting is understated but feels warm, and track lighting lines the walls where the “clouds” don’t reach.  The teacher office area at the left of the picture is nearly done, except for the windows that will go in next week.

The science classroom is across the hall from my room. I would thank those teachers not to blow me up.

THE CLASSROOMS

As far as I can tell, with the exception of the biology classroom, all the classrooms will be carpeted.  Most of the classrooms are set up very much like mine, pictured here.  With dimensions of 20 by 30 feet, it has a door to the outside (behind where I snapped this), a floor-to-ceiling window, two cinderblock walls, one white sheet-rock wall at the front of the room, and one green accent wall.  Whiteboards are about to be put up on the accent walls, and I will have no shortage of board space – it’s 16 feet long.  It looks pretty spartan at the moment, like bare and empty rooms always do, but once I get my many, many posters up, I’m sure it’ll look fantastic.

I think I can speak for everyone at RTHS in saying that we are utterly in awe of J. D. Beam Contractors and the amount of time and thought they’ve dedicated, on a very tight schedule, to making this school a reality.  I guess teachers don’t need a nice building in order to impart knowledge, but it sure makes it easier.

As the school nears completion and the furniture gets placed and the kids arrive, I hope to post some more pictures.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this small glimpse into our school.

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