On Thursday, December 11, 2014, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools cut the ribbon on its newest building - the Science Building at Culbreth Middle School.
The new wing, whose groundbreaking was December 19, 2013, adds an additional 14,700 square feet on to the school. Every student will be able to use its six classrooms/labs, three science preparation rooms, and a large, light-filled commons area to accommodate joint lectures and experiments. The construction also included a rain garden and a greenhouse to facilitate outdoor learning.
All of the classrooms are wired for video and audio and the commons space has access to Apple TV, which links the room to the teachers' computers to enhance instruction.
The new Science Building is LEED certified at the Silver Level. In addition to the new facility, the project included a 4,000 square-foot renovation of former classroom space into a new administrative suite for the school. This allows the school to be more secure with the front office in the front of the building. Several classrooms that have no windows were renovated with tubular skylights - "Solatubes" - that provide a great deal of natural light into classrooms. Approximately 80 percent of the construction waste was recycled or otherwise diverted from the landfill. The project also includes a permeable sidewalk and bamboo flooring.
Another feature of the commons area is a wall with whiteboard paint, which allows presenters to write wherever they want, up to nine feet.
An outdoor feature of the project is the "grandstand," located just off the outdoor patio. It is designed to be used as a teaching tool where students can sit and listen to a presenter. There is also a bioretention cell that is designed to get very wet when it rains, allowing the water to seep into the soil and plants and then dry out completely.
The new greenhouse is available to all Culbreth staff, as well as being used for a variety of science projects.
The day's program began with Beverly Rudolph, Culbreth principal, welcoming everyone. An 8x5 foot flag was donated by Woodmen of the World to fly over the new building, and they also donated flags for each classroom. Also speaking were: Tony Srithai, science coordinator; Bernadette Pelissier, vice chair, Orange County Board of Commissioners (BOCC); Andrew Davidson, vice chair, Board of Education; and Tom Forcella, superintendent.
Earlier that day, the Board of Education voted to dedicate the Science Building in honor of retired BOCC member, Alice Gordon. They voted on a resolution to honor Gordon for:
- serving the citizens of Orange County for 24 years as a County Commissioner;
- being a champion of excellent public schools that provide quality education for all the county's students;
- proposing, forming and chairing the county-wide group of elected officials who crafted the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (SAPFO) to plan for future needs; and
- for being an advocate for the renovation and maintenance of older schools.
The dedication of the Science Building in her honor was a surprise to Gordon that afternoon. After Forcella read the resolution, Gordon was given a standing ovation and asked to address those in attendance. In January, the school will establish a formal plaque to Gordon in her honor.
For more pictures from the event, visit the district's Facebook page.
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