Updated 01/02/2013 01:57 PM
Dr. Weeks Elementary School opens after renovations
Children at Syracuse's Dr. Weeks School received a holiday surprise. Students got to return to their own classrooms after renovations were completed several months ahead of schedule. Our Katie Gibas spoke with the principal about their first day back.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For students, coming back to Dr. Weeks Elementary School after 18 months of renovations was something short of a miracle.
"There were a lot of astonished stares and opened mouths. They were all very impressed. They're all very happy to be back here," said Dare Dutter, the Dr. Weeks Principal. He continued, "The ones that remember what it was like before are just amazed at how different it is now, at how bright and airy and clean it is."
Students had been learning in swing space while their school underwent a $29 million renovation project. Dr. Weeks was basically gutted and rebuilt. The school was first built on an open-concept plan, without walls dividing classrooms.
"They put up portable partitions, but the portable partitions were up for 30 years. And they only went two thirds of the way to the ceiling, so you could hear what was going on in the classroom next to you," said Dutter. "The portable walls were set up in such a way that you literally had to walk through one classroom to get to another classroom."
Major renovations include new walls, windows, and state of the art technology, including smart boards in every room.
"There's a lot of physical aspects to learning. And if you're in a place that's comfortable,a place that's bright, a place that's airy, a place with access to sunlight, it's a lot more of a positive experience for kids," said Dutter.
Now that the major project is done, there are still a few small things that need to be done, including unpacking, to finish off the project.
Dr. Weeks is one of the schools in the first phase of district-wide reconstruction projects. Others in phase one are the Institute of Technology high school, Fowler High School and H.W. Smith school.
For a full look at all the renovations, check out photojournalist Jim Gibbons' behind the renovations tour.