There is still more than a week until the opening bell officially begins the 2014-15 school year, but Alpena Public School faculty and staff have been busy readying the schools for the entire summer.
Schools the size of Alpena High School, which is nearly 50 years old, require large amounts of maintenance. The facility itself must be cared for, the grounds must be maintained and the teaching equipment and furniture must be repaired or replaced. All of the work must be done while working around scheduled events at the high school during the summer.
Principal Matt Poli said preparation for a new school year begins as soon as the students are released for summer vacation. He said each classroom is emptied and the floors are done and any other painting, maintenance or cleaning work is completed. Poli said many people think once school is out the staff is off for most of the summer and only return just a few weeks before class resumes. He said that is far from what takes place.
"We start tearing apart the classrooms literally the day after school gets out and we actually have a very small window to get everything that needs to be done finished," Poli said. "There are times when the wax on the floors literally just dried as the kids are coming in for the first day of school."
This year students will notice some pretty significant changes in the color scheme in some classrooms. There are some with orange and gray walls and others with Alpena's signature green. Besides the building, maintenance also needs done to the sports complex and the massive yard that surrounds the high school campus. Poli said in order to get everything done, people who do not work in the janitorial department chip in to get the work done.
"We have cooks who come in and help paint and even the bus drivers will lend a hand," Poli said. "We really have to work around the events that are scheduled, because there are many even though there is no class. The events continue right up until the first day of school, so our staff really has to juggle their schedule around these events in order to get everything done. Really our janitors work harder during the summer than when there is class."
There are about 10 employees on janitorial staff, which Poli said is not many when the size of the school is considered. He said the staff deserves credit for keeping the facility in as good as shape as it is in.
"Our janitorial crew does a great job. There is a lot of work they have to do and they manage to get it all done," Poli said. "Things like washing all the windows in the school is a huge job. The same is true with the landscaping, painting, floors and maintaining our grounds. We have a lot of real estate to care for. These are not small jobs. "
Poli said a lot of the work may not be visible upon first glance, but if you look closely you will see a lot of fresh paint and improvements to the school.
"People don't always see or appreciate what is done because a lot of it is done behind the scenes," Poli said. "Some things that are done in the summer students won't even know about. like wiring. We had to lay out all the wiring in the hallways before it could be installed. That is miles of wire that was put in, that most people won't even know about. That is only one example of hard work that was done to do something that people don't know about.
"It really takes a team effort and a lot of hard work from the day after school gets out, until it begins again to get everything done. Then during the school year it is pretty much just maintaining everything."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.