Cleveland High students here while school fixed
Major renovation began last fall on the deteriorating Cleveland High School on Beacon Hill forcing the student body, faculty and staff to take up temporary residence at the Louisa Boren Junior High School building in West Seattle.
As part of the Seattle School Board's five-year plan to "improve and maintain high-quality school buildings," several local schools are getting needed renovations and construction projects.
"[Cleveland] was starting to get pretty bad," said Wayne Floyd, assistant principal of the school.
Cleveland Principal Donna Miller described the school building as outdated.
"It was dark; dark floors, dark walls with wood paneling and poor lighting.
"People don't realize what affect that has," Miller said, referring to the gloomy environment. Miller hopes the renovated school will help students and faculty feel good about themselves, and thinks it will raise students' self-esteem. "People are looking forward to going back," she added.
At the school's temporary digs in West Seattle, "things are going really well here," Floyd said. "This school is light, clean, and they've done a lot of updates and unique things. It's a more cheery building."
Shekkia Adams, a junior at Cleveland, also enjoys the new location.
"I like this school better than the one on Beacon Hill," Adams said. "It's a better atmosphere."
Although things are going well, Floyd said the move has been difficult on some of the kids. "It's a hardship for the kids if they need to take public transportation; then they have to go downtown and then to West Seattle."
Despite the transition, students and staff have not been hindered.
"I don't think it hurt [student achievement]," said Floyd.
It hasn't seemed to hurt the school's mission or goals. Testament to this is Principal Miller, who was recently recognized for her leadership and accomplishments with the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. This excellence in education award granted Miller a trip to Washington, D.C., and $25,000.
"We have a great team working for the same vision," said Miller of her staff. "This award solidified my direction, validated what we're doing."
Miller and her team have worked together to help the school settle into its new community. One big change for the neighborhood is that Cleveland is a high school, which brings young drivers and an open campus, meaning students are allowed to leave during their lunch break. The building previously functioned as a closed-campus middle school before Cleveland moved in.
Overall, Floyd and Miller agree the school really hasn't had any problems with their new community, and they are enjoying the location and environment.
Floyd also said they've even received some support from the West Seattle community.
"There have been people who've noticed there are games here and have stopped by to look and check it out."
"After we're settled more, we will focus on reaching out to the community," said Miller. "Figuring out how we can globally work together is always on our agenda."
The current construction at Cleveland High School includes the demolition of two existing buildings and the renovation of the landmark, main building. When completed, the school will total 165,000 square feet and will be able to serve up to 1,000 students. It is scheduled to reopen Autumn 2007, but Floyd said some contractual problems on the front end of the project slowed down progress and may delay the opening. "We should know at the end of this school year if it will be a two or three year project," he said.
Miller said she can't wait for the completion, noting that "it's been a long time coming." Recalling the old Cleveland High, Miller said coming to their new location at Louisa Boren School has been a step up for them, and going back will be just one more step up.
Lauren Gardner is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.