by Blake Hancock, LMS 7th Grade
In 2005, Superintendent Mr. Walker and Principal Keene were talking about Leonard Middle School, and what it needed. Mr. Keene said that not having a separate lunch space from the gym was a problem. This was a problem because the gym area was being tied up for two hours a day. All of the UA’s like gym, art, and music were being affected by this schedule. A cafeteria would provide a space where at least a whole grade level could be in one place for a speaker, or a meeting.
There was a priority list for the district. First on the list was renovating Old Town Highschool’s science labs. The next step was the LMS locker rooms. And the next step on the priority list was the cafeteria.
Along with the building of the cafeteria came some challenges that needed to be solved. One was finding enough space to add it on. There needed to be a place to be that had all the right things like wiring for cameras and pipes. Another problem was bidding on contractors for the right price. Without having the right price, this could lead to debt. They had to negotiate on a price which was affordable. This leads to another problem which is paying for it.
The cafeteria is worth around $2,000,000. Two million is a boatload of money! “We didn't want to put a new burden on the taxpayers,” Mr. Walker stated. So with this they have been saving up for about sixteen years for this to be built. Mr. Walker added, “We overcome these challenges by finding solutions.” And they did so having good money management.
Who Has Helped Out
Mr. Walker started meeting with teachers at LMS and they confirmed that a cafeteria would be a great addition to the school. Mr. Walker has also worked with the Board of Directors in RSU 34. For this project to commence, they had to approve and be supportive of this project.
The architectural engineering firm also helped a great deal with the cafeteria. They provided blueprints for what it would look like in the future. You might be asking, “What is an architectural engineer?” Architectural engineers apply science and technology to the real world by designing buildings that improve the way we do things, like a cafeteria. They do this by combining building systems like structural, electrical, mechanical, and lighting into a whole new prospect. These creative problem-solvers are constantly facing the challenges of the future; like sustainable building materials and green energy sources. Architectural engineers are trained to use the latest technologies like computer-based building design and analysis software, building information modeling, and advanced sensors and controls to design, build, and operate the various systems within a building.
Start to Finish
So far, the building progression is on track. The building started in June of 2020 and will be finished sometime in July 2021, or about 13 months. They’ve been consistently working hard on this project.
We the People
The hope is that the cafeteria will become a place that is well used all day long. It’ll be a place in the morning for students to get dropped off and come in sit down where breakfast will be available for students who want it. There is a big window in the front of the cafeteria to provide natural light and to create a nice, warm environment for the students.
The cafeteria would also be a nice place for classroom meetings and speakers to come in. Also provide a meeting space for the RSU #34 school board use, instead of the library. If there is a meeting, you will be able to connect to a display wirelessly from any device to show slides or other important information. There will be a screen added to one of the main walls to show things like last night's middle school sports game. This will make the cafeteria place where it is more quiet and relaxing than loud chatter.
Superintendent Mr. Walker states, “It will serve the school well but also be an asset to the community.
The old kitchen was very small. There was very limited storage, refrigeration, and cook space. With the new cafeteria being built, there will be a fully working kitchen alongside it. The old kitchen space will be turned into a nice spacious walk-in freezer and storage area. This will also open up the menu choices.
The Grand Opening
If we are at a place with COVID-19 where there can be big gatherings, the school will host an open house for the public to come see what has been built. There will also be snacks and refreshments whilst you take a tour of the place.
Advice for Others
This has been a big project and anyone else trying to accomplish something like this might want some advice to help them with their journey. “You need to be patient and stick with the plan you’ve come up with,” Mr. Walker says. That is some great advice.
There will be ups and downs in a project like this and many things you could learn. For example, teamwork, and leadership. You should always strive for greatness and never lose hope in what you are doing.
In the future, the new cafeteria will provide a great spot for the students and teachers where they can be welcome. This cafeteria expansion to the Old Town middle school is a very good project that will help the school and the people in it. It’s taken a lot of hard work but it has really shown in the progression of the cafeteria.