For some, middle school is a temporary stop on the path to adulthood, a place they can’t wait to leave and to which they’ll never return. For others, however, the path to adulthood leads them right back.
At least that’s the case with six teachers, each of whom attended in their youth and returned to later teach there. And just as the teachers have changed over the years, so too has their school.
Five of these teachers—Stephen Levine, Jayna Rubin, Eric Magliocca, Brad Wilson and Brooke Szajnecki—helped honor some of their school’s changes on Saturday morning.
With scissors in hand, they cut through a ribbon at Fort Couch’s doors, to mark the completion of their rebuilt, renovated middle school building.
The ribbon-cutting at Fort Couch was the second of two ceremonies held on Saturday. Fellow educators brandished decorated sheers at earlier in the morning, to celebrate the simultaneous conclusion of renovations and construction.
The revamped schools were the result of several years of hard work, according to Fort Couch Principal Joseph DeMar. He said physical and industrial acts of construction, renovation and building work took approximately two years to complete, but came only after four or five years of careful planning and thought.
At both ceremonies, speakers acknowledged and thanked those involved in the long process of bringing the buildings into the new millennium.
DeMar and Boyce Principal Karen Brown each addressed the role played by the faculty and staff at their respective schools, and by the school board and school district between them. These parties, both said, were crucial in determining functional classroom needs and design.
Harry Kunselman, president of the Upper St. Clair Board of School Directors, recognized U.S. Rep Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and State Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair who were in attendance, for addressing public education issues as our elected officials.
Kunselman spoke of the changes that occurred in our community, country and world over the decades since each school was built, noting that the past decade has seen very rapid change and made preparing students more challenging than ever.
“Twenty-first century challenges require 21st skills,” he said. “Twenty-first century skills require 21st century learning, and 21st century learning requires 21st century facilities.”
Updated internet technology and accessibility and Promethean boards were but a few of the improvements referenced as tools integrated into the schools to help rear globally-prepared minds.
Among many others whom Kunnsleman thanked was architect David McLean, of Graves & McLean, Registered Architects, LLC, whose fingerprints, Kunselman said, can be found all over Upper St. Clair.
McLean also spoke at the ceremonies, presenting each building to their audiences. He said that he really had to bring his best game to the projects, since the exceptional reputation of the Upper St. Clair School District demanded nothing short of exceptional work.
He explained the differences between his work on the two schools, citing Boyce as a renovation project and Fort Couch as an overhaul. After he described the differences in the needs of each building, he highlighted some of their same end results.
Both buildings are green, he said. Solar panels on the roofs allow for energy conservation and teach students about energy alternatives and responsible consumption.
Some of the most obvious changes to the buildings were to their facades, including the incorporation of the three arches found on other school buildings in Upper St. Clair.
Superintendent Patrick O’Toole said that the three arches represent the three important aspects of education in Upper St. Clair: academics, arts and athletics.
“(The three arches have) become the symbol… of our strategic plan to educate the whole child,” said Dr. O’Toole.
The Boyce Middle School Chorus, Boyce Middle School Band, and Fort Couch Girls’ Ensemble demonstrated their learned art in musical performances at the ceremonies. Student representatives from each school also addressed the public with comments.
Ciara Eiriz, student council president and eighth-grader at Fort Couch, concluded her speech with promising words: “We intend to take good care in this new, highly-technical, green setting and will work hard in our studies to become 21st century students.”
What do you think of the renovations made to the schools? Tell us in the comments.