Extreme Makeover

Published 3:45 pm Monday, October 10, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
The halls of ECHS are not only buzzing with students these days, but with the sounds and sights of much needed renovations. The school was originally built in the 1960's and has deteriorated over time and endured major damage from Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and even Katrina.
The more prominent renovations are taking place on the school's facility originally named the solar building.
"When this building was constructed, it was built with the intention of being self sufficient." ECHS Principal Kyle Ferguson said. "Solar panels were installed on the roof and they were to heat and cool the building using nothing but solar power. It was set up so that teachers could carry children through a control area and teach them first hand about how solar power works and generates energy. To my knowledge, the system has never worked. There is nothing solar about that building."
The solar building was once used as one large open room with petitions used for classroom privacy. Later on cinder block walls were built to replace the petitions to provide for adequate use of the space for instructional classrooms.
According to Ferguson, dirt berms bordered the exterior of the building causing the cinder block to sweat. The continual dampness of the walls became a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Each year the walls required cleaning, scraping and repainting.
The berms have been removed as well as rotted cross ties that will be replaced with sod. The exterior walls once covered with dirt and grass are being replaced with brick. The interior walls have been scraped, treated and replaced with sheetrock. The carpet in the solar building is slated to be replaced with blue ceramic tile in November during Thanksgiving holidays.
"Our grant writer is currently working on a grant to purchase doors for the building." Ferguson said. "When the walls were put up in the solar building, they left open doorways. We want to add doors to the openings to aid in the classroom privacy."
New carpet was installed in the auditorium. The auditorium roof sustained significant roof damage from Hurricane Dennis. The ceiling in the auditorium and the main lobby have both been repaired and painted. The stage will get new hardwood flooring and a new curtain as well.
"We got blasted from the hurricanes." Ferguson said, "Ivan caused extensive damage to the school. We have just got back into the band room since Ivan hit last year."
Ivan damaged the band room roof causing water damage to the walls, carpet and band uniforms.
"The band boosters and members have worked really hard to raise money." Ferguson said. "On hat cost $100. They had to replace everything. They have done a great job coming back."
Hurricane Dennis blew the roof of the Career Technical building off causing major water damage. A skylight in the old gym was blown out as well causing the gym floor to warp.
Both gym floors have been replaced with new hardwood floors.
Other renovations will include the removal of the air conditioning unit in the main building. The current unit is no longer available for purchase and as a result the parts have become obsolete.
According to Ferguson, superintendent Buck Powell has been instrumental in implementing and supporting the high schools transformation.

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