By RUBY THOMAS
Record Staff Writer
A $7 million renovation project is underway across the Sacred Heart Schools campus in an effort to make classrooms more conducive to learning and buildings more energy efficient.
Work started at the end of this school year and is slated to be completed by the first week of August.
Students at Sacred Heart Academy, where most of the work is concentrated, will return to find solar panels on the school’s roof, updated classrooms with new furniture and lockers able to accommodate laptop computers.
Mary Lee McCoy, principal of Sacred Heart Academy, said in a phone interview that the school needed to be updated for “21st-century learning.”
Previously, classrooms at the academy did not promote the type of learning that leads to critical thinking skills, McCoy said. This summer, classrooms are being outfitted with movable furniture that will allow for a “more open environment,” where students can work in pairs or groups.
New desks will accommodate iPads, which students use during the school day. The old-school chalk boards will be replaced with whiteboards in all classrooms.
In an effort to help students gain what McCoy calls “21st-century skills,” part of the upgrade to the school will include a bank of solar panels installed on the roof of the academy’s cafeteria. This project will enhance the school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, she said.
Students will study renewable energy in the physics lab and will have the opportunity to “examine something in real life and not just from a book,” McCoy said.
Energy efficiency is also one of the goals of the renovation project, said David Noltemeyer, director of facilities at Sacred Heart Schools.
An Internet-based building automation system will be installed to allow teachers, faculty and staff to control the temperature in individual rooms. The new system will also help monitor the consumption of energy on campus, said Noltemeyer.
McCoy believes this new system will lead to more comfortable classrooms that will be “more conducive to learning.”
Other renovations include opening up the lobby at the academy and moving the reception desk to a more prominent area. Noltemeyer noted that the receptionist will have a better view of who enters and leaves the building.
In addition, new ceilings will be installed at Sacred Heart Academy. At Sacred Heart Model School, new ceilings and fixtures will be added. And, the lobby of Sacred Heart Preschool will also be expanded.
This renovation project is a continuation of work that began last summer.