As some students learn the hard way, life often comes with responsibility for specific outcomes with specific deadlines. To complicate matters, sometimes after we set things in motion, the finished product and delivery date are largely out of our hands.
That's how I feel this summer with project upon project underway and freshmen scheduled to show up for Convocation five weeks from today. Will we be ready? Uhhhh, I think so.
Maybe it's the sheer number of projects, the lengthy wait for permits, and the fact that the many improvements we are making involve demolition as prelude to construction that have me anxious – it needs to look bad before it can look good!
Here's what we have been doing:
We are downsizing the under-utilized College Room that sits in the middle of the Counseling footprint. We are adding two offices which will allow Br. Bob Arrowsmith to join his colleagues and create a space for our new position, a second college counseling specialist. In addition, we are moving the reception area and adjusting the size of the two meeting rooms and storage room. We anticipate a space that is both more functional and more welcoming.
In a project funded almost entirely by friends of our baseball program, we have reduced the curvature of the playing area and taken out the hill that was along the third-base side. We have moved the backstop closer to home plate. Once completed, we will have added a practice infield and a hitting pavilion.
The soil we have taken off the baseball field has help us level the field out back. Players who have practiced there are very familiar with the uphill/downhill nature of the field. It took a lot of dirt to raise the southern end approximately eight feet.
Dining hall and servery
We feed +/-350 people in about 25 minutes four times each day. Any bottlenecks we can eliminate make for a more relaxing student experience. We have removed four cheek walls and opened up the wall at the salad/soup bar, providing double-sided access. We are relocating the beverage stations outside the servery and installing a hot-food serving area and panini station in its place. We are moving away from disposables to washable plates (they are blue and yellow) and utensils which means the grinder is gone and with that the noise level will drop by a bunch of decibels. We have enlarged the space for dropping off dishes.
We have addressed a drainage issue out back at the loading dock, reinforcing the concrete and making it easier for roll-in, roll-out access to the Performing Arts Center. We are also creating a secure storage space.
In another donor-funded project, we have installed a double-sided block wall for throw-and-catch practice. The wall is just inside the stadium fence.
We are addressing a longstanding concern with curbing in the main entrance lot – the curb was close to falling into the drainage culvert. We are restriping the parking spaces.
In the meantime, our hardworking maintenance and custodial crews are performing preventative maintenance. Did you know we have more than 150 heat pumps in the school? We paint walls and rails, refinish floors, clean lockers, all so that school will look, as it does every day of the school year, sparkling.
There are a couple of projects that we know will spill over into the early weeks of the school year.
School store and student lounge
A delay with the permit and settling on a contractor meant a project that has seen more than its fair share of delays will probably run into the first couple of weeks of the school year. It will be worth the wait. And no one has waited longer than Mrs. Tamsyn Ryan, manager of the school store, who has provided wonderful service to students, parents and alumni in less-than-perfect merchandising conditions for the past three years. The students are going to love the mural painted at the end of last year by our most gifted student artists.
We await confirmation of a delivery date for Tim Schmalz's bronze sculpture of Our Lady of Good Counsel. It will be a magnificent addition to our Catholic school.
I am sure I have left some projects out but you get the idea. Again, I am grateful for the hardworking and talented teams of workers, inside and out, who have been tearing down and building up this summer.
There's still plenty to do. So, join your prayers to mine for the precision and perseverance of everyone involved in helping us bring you an even better Good Counsel for the 2017-18 school year.