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Newly Renovated Hamilton STEM Academy Gets Fresh Start to School Year
September 19, 2023 – A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the beginning of school marked the return of giddy scholars and a newly renovated Hamilton STEM Academy building.
“I’ve been at this school 15 years, so it’s nice to be given a fresh start to the new school year,” said Hamilton STEM Academy Second Grade Teacher Jessica Myers.
Even now, weeks after the unveiling, teachers, students, and staff continue to smile from ear to ear when they enter the building. And why shouldn’t they? Their building is now a welcoming site that greets them every weekday morning with an array of colors accompanied by bright natural light.
Sixth grader Bryson Haynes remembers his initial thoughts after seeing the interior of the building when he started first grade.
“It was old and wasn’t updated,” Haynes said.
However, he gladly overlooked this aspect of the building because all of his brothers attended Hamilton STEM, and he was excited to follow in their footsteps. To him, “it’s where family comes together.”
“Now the building has new ceilings, new furniture, new lockers, new everything,” Haynes said. “It's great to have a newly updated building! I think my brothers are a little jealous.”
Colorful floor patterns illuminate hallway corridors. Each color separates the corridors and establishes a wing of specific grade levels. Red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple floor tiles help teach students hallway etiquette by helping them understand which side of the hallway they should walk on when passing others.
Efficiency and additional learning time were at the forefront of the Hamilton STEM remodel plans. Columbus City Schools’ Capital Improvements worked closely with building staff, administration, and teachers, to create modernized classrooms.
Having a sink in the art room helps with cleanup and expands the type of messy artwork students now have access to with endless possibilities. In addition, every classroom has its own sink and water fountain. This eliminates the need for whole-class water breaks, or students leaving the room for a sip of water.
Haynes said his teacher is ecstatic about the changes and believes his teacher’s favorite things about the renovations are the new desks, a writing board, and cabinets.
“She doesn’t have to cram all her stuff inside one small place anymore,” Haynes said.
To keep classrooms clutter-free, each Hamilton STEM scholar received their very own lockable cubby to store their personal belongings during class time.
Now in place are freshly painted classrooms, new ceiling tiles, modern flooring, and new cabinetry, which all create clean lines for a sleek look.
This polished space invites room for improved technology. Some new systems are being piloted in this project, such as mobile 85” monitors for instructional technology and a classroom amplification system. Teachers had the opportunity to test out the mobile monitor before its introduction into the building. Not only was it selected by the teachers for its efficiency but also because it is cost-effective to implement and support from a technological standpoint.
“The new technology - the TVs are amazing,” Myers said. “They’re large enough for all students to see. They’re interactive. Just being able to pull up different programs for the students to use has been great.”
A classroom amplification system ensures students can hear their teacher no matter where they are sitting in the classroom. This system amplifies educator and student voices so that regardless of an individual’s ability to project their voice, it resonates throughout the room. The hope is to intertwine the learning environment more closely with technology and to improve instruction quality.
Perhaps the greatest change of all that can be seen is the gymnasium. Physical Education Teacher, Kevin Darthard Jr. was lost for words when he walked into his gym.
“The gym is so great because we have more space,” Haynes said. “The new flooring is good, and the Hawk logo in the middle of the gym brings everything together.”
Sanded for the first time since 1952, the floor is a completely different shade. It is decked out with new paint marks, moveable basketball backboards, cabinets for storage, and sound dampeners. School pride is now center court, as Hamilton STEM’s mascot, a white and blue hawk, is painted on the floor.
“Everything is so new, so it just gives everybody a new sense of pride for our school, with our new desks and our new technology, and just everything,” Myers said. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to be a part of the renovations.”
All of the updates were made possible through the use of ESSER funds. This $4 million comprehensive project was part of a larger investment to improve the District. To put this in perspective, the investment is only 15% of what a new elementary school building would cost to serve 600 students.