After more than a year away from their Ocean View location, Lord Baltimore Elementary School faculty and staff poured back into the now air-conditioned and bathroom- and elevator-laden building amid boxes and furniture not yet in place.
As she offered praise Tuesday for the work performed on the building and to teachers for willingly working on preparations without pay until Monday, Lord Baltimore Principal Janet Hickman said that “it’s down to the last hoorah.”
“It’s fantastic. They did a wonderful job,” Hickman said, adding that the school is almost ready for the students, who come back in 11 days.
Workers laboring on the building for more than a year — and still touching things up in spots — installed all new ceilings in the 1932 building. Flooring was completely renovated, bathrooms were added to many classrooms and elevators were installed to make the school more handicapped-accessible. The cafeteria was revamped for the first time since the 1950s, and a geothermal heating and cooling system was also installed, adding air-conditioning to the building for the first time.
Michelle Klinedinst, a 20-year kindergarten teacher, said that this will be her first job with air-conditioning. On Tuesday, like many others, she stood with a box full of tools, including a drill and a stud finder, “unpacking boxes and enjoying the AC.”
In the new library, which was converted from the old cafeteria, librarian Bonnie Varrato did the same with the help of her sons; 8-year-old Zach and 11-year-old Dylan. Upon arrival at the school for the first time in over a year, the Varratos found new bookcases stacked and unorganized in the renovated library. On Tuesday afternoon, the family worked hard to get the room in order but didn’t have many complaints.
“I love the new space and the new furniture,” Bonnie Varrato said of her bigger, better-decorated library. “Climbable” shelves used to line the old library, Hickman said.
Down the hall, custodians, who usually work year-round but had their work particularly cut out for them this year, took time out to marvel at the mop drain in one of the enlarged custodial closets in the school, jokingly calling it a “foot bath.”
The break was apparently well-deserved. Movers were only available for three days and the custodial crew took care of most of the rest. On Tuesday, they were helping teachers move furniture, unload boxes and throw away the empties.
“It’s hard work,” said Jack Sturgis after laughing about the “foot bath” with Bill Hastings and Glen Marvel. “We’ve been doing most of the work.”
Just past the new elevator adjacent to the custodial closet, Hickman toured the new cafeteria, marveling at the new refrigerator and the freezer, which was formerly located outside. Next to the well-lit, window-filled cafeteria, special-education teacher Linda Brown enjoyed the air-conditioning, despite the seemingly growing pile of boxes,and the office staff showed off the new administrative wing.
“It’s wonderful,” school secretary Rosalie Sutton said before bringing the elated staff back to reality. “We have a lot to do.”
Sutton stared at registration forms, saying that normally she would file three or four a week. This week, she had to file about 50 because of the setback caused by settling back in. But looking around at the new windows, floors and ceilings in the office and feeling the breeze of the new AC, Sutton — like all of the staff members — didn’t seem to care.
“It’s exciting. It’s going to be so nice.”