Welcome to the new home

New carpeting, updated desks, windows instead of walls and eco-friendly hand dryers. At the start of the 2012 school year, the students at Convent of the Sacred Heart saw the results of the school renovations that took place over the summer.
While Sacred Heart students enjoyed the 2012 summer vacation,  the school received a make-over. In the Upper School, seven classrooms and two bathrooms were refurbished. According to Mrs. Hayes’ welcome letter, the new classrooms received “new flooring, lighting, walls and ceilings; new furniture and updated audiovisual equipment,” while the bathroom renovations included “new fixtures, partitions, flooring, lighting, wall finishes and accessories.”
By September, when the students were ready to go back to school, the school building was also ready for the new school year.
“Everybody got together and we knew we had to get everything done in just three months,” Facilities Coordinator Mr. Robert Alison said. “Downstairs, on a hot August day, it smelled like a men’s locker room and I thought, how are we going to get this stench out? But the sweat and hard work paid off – the school looks great.”
The revamped classrooms are not only aesthetic, but they are also practical, considering the implementation of advanced technology. One of the most recognizable differences is the installation of Sharp flat-panel screens on classroom walls. Rather than having to rely on a cord attached to a Smartboard or projector, Apple iPads and Mac laptops can now wirelessly connect to these new televisions, enabling any student or teacher with an iPad or Mac to access the display from any seat in the room.
“We integrated the flat-panel screens in a very forward-thinking way,” Director of Educational Technology Mr. Karl Haesler said.  “Because the display can be accessed from anywhere in the room, the experience in the classroom becomes more student-centered rather than teacher-centered.”
While the classrooms are now more student-centered, they have always been a central and familiar part of student life. Given all of the changes, the “Welcome Home” sign at Sacred Heart’s entrance seems to be referring to an entirely different school. Although it is the same place at heart, this home looks somewhat unfamiliar to returning students.
“It was a weird feeling because I got so used to one type of environment, so the new classrooms not only changed the classes but also just the high school as a whole for me,” senior and Sacred Heart student since preschool Gabby Rask said.
However, for the 24 new students in the Upper School, the renovations are not such a drastic change.
“I don’t really remember what they used to look like,” new sophomore Katherine Squitieri said in an interview conducted by email. “The classrooms are very high tech and up-to-date and the windows are so big and spacious. Also, the bathrooms are so pretty. I love the blue and the hand dryers!”
Whether they result in feelings of astonishment or indifference when compared to the old school’s interior, the new renovations undoubtedly add a new feel to the classroom environment.  They apply well to the school theme of “Insight and Innovation” in presenting an insightful and innovative approach to Sacred Heart learning, empowering the Upper School girls to fulfill the Upper School theme of “setting fire to the world.”
 – Zsanelle Morel, Staff Writer, and Jane Gerstner, Features Editor
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