On the heels of earlier improvements to the school’s exterior as well as interior renovations on the upper level, the lower level remodeling projects at Detroit Lakes Middle School have just wrapped up.
School leaders say the building has come a long way in recent years, and with the construction nearly complete now, they can really see, enjoy, and be proud of the outcome.
“It’s been years in the making that we’ve been working on this, and now to see it come to fruition is pretty amazing,” said Principal Mike Suckert. “We’re pretty pleased about it.”
“I’ve seen a lot of transformation over the past five years,” said Assistant Principal Justin Hegg. “It has a nice flow now.”
The lower level remodeling project has improved the flow of students during one of the school’s busiest times -- lunch. Moving the kitchen to the old main office area, directly across from the gymnasium, where kids sit and eat, has made for more sensible and straightforward routes between the serving room and the dining area.
In turn, moving the old office up to the front of the building, right next to the main entrance, has improved security and also made for a much lighter, brighter atmosphere, as the reception area and some of the administrative offices now boast large windows -- an upgrade from the windowless quarters the staff worked in before.
Improving the lighting, and trying to create a more open and welcoming feel, were building-wide themes of the redesign, said Construction Manager Sean Vadnais, of Gehrtz Construction. New LED lights were installed throughout the school, and skylights were added to let in natural light. Old vinyl coverings were removed from corridor walls, which got a fresh coat of paint, and the ceilings were either replaced or redone, either way getting lightened up.
“They had some areas that were dark and dingy,” Vadnais said. “It’s brighter now. It’s just a better atmosphere.”
While the focus of the project last summer was on the upper level -- where the media center, some classrooms, bathrooms and shared learning areas were redone -- the focus over the past few months has been on the lower level. In addition to the relocated kitchen and office areas on that level, which Vadnais called “the biggest part of this project,” there were also classrooms remodeled (notably, the family and consumer sciences room and the science labs) and a new teacher’s work room and lounge was added, among other improvements.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, two days into the new school year, Suckert said, “We’re getting used to our new home, and we really love the changes we’ve made. We think it’s more functional, much more safe, and it’s a nice change… It’s a building that we’re really proud of.”