Students in Shelby County returned to school on Monday, and for many there were some noticeable changes at their schools due to recent construction and renovation projects.
At Mt Laurel Elementary, a 12 classroom addition was recently completed to accommodate additional students created by grade restructuring to include fourth and fifth grades. The new classroom wing will serve first and third grade classes, while the remaining grades will utilize existing areas of the school.
Principal Angela Walker said the construction timeline was pushed for completion, but parents were thrilled this morning to see it was ready for students’ arrival.
“We had a huge number of parents walk in today to see it,” Mrs. Walker said. “We have had nothing but positive feedback from them. They were not only excited to see the changes to the building, but they are thrilled that the school will now serve students through fifth grade.”
Two other schools with significant building improvements were Montevallo Elementary and Montevallo High School. At Montevallo High School, students entering through the front doors walked into a newly renovated front office, which incorporates a new design to improve safety. The area features a new front desk area along with a glass wall and doors that prevent visitors from entering the school without signing in at the front office.
Other changes include renovations to the administrative office suite, conference area, teacher workroom, faculty restrooms, and nurse’s office. New canopies are also being installed at the Family and Consumer Science building, which is still undergoing renovations for a new culinary lab. A new driveway and front parking area is also still under construction, with a projected completion date of mid-November barring rain delays.
A newly constructed sign and electronic message board is also a new feature at Montevallo High School. The message sign was a jointly funded effort between the Shelby Board of Education, the City of Montevallo, and the University of Montevallo. It will be used to provide messages to the community from all three entities. Shelby County School Board member Jimmy Bice helped lead the effort to secure funding for the project.
At Montevallo Elementary School, construction continues on a new entrance for the school which will also incorporate new security features. Construction also continues on improvements to the school parking lot and bus drop off area.
Additional renovations to the inside of the building were completed just in time for the opening of school. Major changes included the redesign of the first grade classrooms, which previously incorporated a pod design. Those pods classrooms were reconstructed into traditional classrooms. Other changes included new flooring in the hallways, renovated restrooms, new ceilings, and painting throughout the building.
“I have had nothing but positive comments from our parents,” said Principal Allison Campbell. “Our teachers have worked very hard to get everything ready. And, even though we are still dealing with some ongoing construction, our parents and teachers are all being very positive because they appreciate the investment that is being made at our school.”
At Pelham High School, renovations included new ceilings, HVAC system, stair treads in all stairwells, and tile flooring in several areas of the building. The school also received newly renovated restrooms and a redesigned office area.
“It is wonderful,” said Principal Bob Lavett of the improvements to Pelham High School. “When you walk around you can really see the improvements. It has given everyone a new sense of pride in the school.”
At Wilsonville Elementary School, a new computer lab will be ready for student use in the next few days. Construction continues on new art and music classrooms, gymnasium, and library media center. Those projects are expected to be completed in October, excluding rain delays.
“Everyone is so excited,” said Principal Maria Tidmore. “We all realize that it is going to be wonderful when it is finally complete.”
Helena Elementary School had painting projects throughout the school, including the cafeteria, and several hallways and classrooms. The school also received new ceilings in some hallways and a new roof. These projects were in addition to a six classroom expansion project, and design improvements to the front of the school which were completed last spring.