An electrical worker stands on a ladder to pull wires through the ceiling March 29 during the beginning phases of construction on the Troy High School media center.

An electrical worker stands on a ladder to pull wires through the ceiling March 29 during the beginning phases of construction on the Troy High School media center.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Troy school board approves $1.4 million summer renovations

Projects comes as last of voter-approved bond 10 years ago

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published April 9, 2021

 The Troy High School Media Center has been cleared of all books and furniture to make way for renovations approved by the Board of Education March 16.

The Troy High School Media Center has been cleared of all books and furniture to make way for renovations approved by the Board of Education March 16.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

 Renovation work has begun at the Troy High School Media Center, which will be getting a face-lift as part of an approximately $1.4 million renovation pack that also includes work at Smith Middle School, and Hamilton and Wass elementary schools.

Renovation work has begun at the Troy High School Media Center, which will be getting a face-lift as part of an approximately $1.4 million renovation pack that also includes work at Smith Middle School, and Hamilton and Wass elementary schools.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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TROY — Some Troy School District Board of Education trustees returned to the board room March 16, while others remained present virtually, to approve, in a 5-0 vote, a roughly $1.439 million bid pack that includes renovations to the Troy High School media center and the Smith Middle School stage, and exterior window and door work at both Hamilton and Wass elementary schools.

Board Secretary Gary Hauff and Trustee Elizabeth Hammond were absent from the meeting.

Troy High School Principal Remo Roncone said he couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming media center renovations at his school. The media center at the school was built 30 years ago, Roncone explained, and is due for an update.

“It’s really exciting to know that every student and subject area can benefit from this space. I’m very excited. It’s something that is going to enhance all instructional areas and really provide us some great spaces for professional development, community gathering, PTO meetings, celebration,” Roncone said.  “This space can be used from sunup to sundown for so many different things and will easily meet all of those needs.”

The new media center, once renovated, will stand as the central hub of the building, Roncone added. It will grow from 8,282 square feet to 9,107 square feet upon completion. Walls between several neighboring areas — including the computer lab, an office, a makerspace, a work room and a storage room — will be taken down to make room for new amenities planned, such as a tech support station, a cafe, and multiple small- and large-group instructional spaces.

The drive to approve these projects, especially the media center, came from two main concerns, Board President Karl Schmidt said: Students study differently today than they did 30 years ago, and the high school lacked open, collaborative spaces.

“The way kids research doesn’t require as much in terms of physical books. Most of the educational research function has gone online, and sources are updated online. We looked at that and recognized that as soon you try to update all the volumes in a library, old school, it doesn’t make sense anymore,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of hallways and not a lot of open areas. As we look at deep learning as our primary strategy, you have a lot of collaboration and project-based work. If you’re going to do that with your curriculum, you need to provide physical spaces and environments that really encourage that type of learning.”

Roncone learned the power that even simple changes of scenery could add to a space after it’s been renovated through previous bond projects, and he said he believes reworking the spaces will do wonders for student productivity and instructional efficiency for staff.

“When you look at a space of this scale, as the largest single room in the building, new paint, new flooring, and natural and ambient lighting will make everyone feel welcome and inspired in such a space,” Roncone said, adding that new, customizable furniture will be a large part of creating that atmosphere.

“Currently, right now, the tables we have in there are all stationary. … You can’t really modify it, but now we can bring in a classroom-worth of students and move the furniture, because it’s all flexible seating, to accommodate small- or large-group instruction.”

There have been a few unexpected silver linings from renovating the space at a time when schools are trying to space out students and staff more amid a global pandemic. Providing group spaces where large classes could go if they need to be more spread out, as well as a cafe where students can gather during passing time, Roncone said, will help alleviate traffic jams and make sure people inside the building are socially distanced.

In addition to removing the old wooden chairs and tables for new, versatile seating, Roncone said the renovation has given the school’s media consultant time to pare down the books that may return to the shelves after completion. “There will still be a very hearty library, I would say. When you look at other surrounding schools, it’ll be one of the heftier circulation desks still,” Roncone said, adding that books not returning to the shelves will be donated.

With the community gathering space at Athens High School, which was paid for with capital project bond dollars as well roughly eight years ago, Schmidt said providing Troy High with the same type of space was long overdue.

“There’s always been a central point of Troy High that’s missing. You have the central staircase, but it’s always a huge traffic jam there,” he said. “I think everybody in that building for years has really looked for some place they could set up where kids could relax and enjoy each other. When you look at the new design, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about pulling kids together and given them a cool space to hang out and learn.”

Work in the media center began over spring break, March 29-April 2, and will continue throughout the rest of the school year and summer. The high school’s current circulation desk has been moved to the auditorium for student and staff access. Schmidt said all projects are slated to be complete by the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

 

Bond dollars put to use
Roncone hopes to show the community through this last bond renovation that their investment in the school district 10 years ago was money well spent.

“I think it really will do a wonderful job highlighting how those community bond dollars are spent and reinvested in our building, our children and our staff. I think the proof will definitely be in the final product and really show people what we do with those entrusted funds,” he said. “I’m excited to show the community they should be very proud and happy they passed that bond 10 years ago and that money has provided us to do something very unique and cool.

“We’re honored to have it, and it really comes from the community as a gift they’ve given to our students and staff. We’re going to maximize it for the next 30 or more years, until the next time it needs to be looked at again.”

The value can be seen in better education when the district renovates its educational spaces, Schmidt said. “It’s so valuable to refresh your educational spaces, and I think it helps every student in the district feel valued by the community,” he said.

“When you think about it, a majority of people in this community don’t have anybody in the school system, and yet the community as a whole values what (the district) provides enough to put their money behind it and maintain and build on that strength even more for other people’s children. I think that says amazing things about the people of Troy,” Schmidt added.

For more information, visit troy.k12.mi.us.

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