Place of pride: Students, staff are excited about renovations at Kennedy

January 2016 Posted in Community, School
Principal Sean Aker at the new entrance to John F. Kennedy High School. An open house for the public will be held Jan. 20.

Principal Sean Aker at the new entrance to John F. Kennedy High School. An open house for the public will be held Jan. 20.

By Tanner Russ

Kennedy High School, has had a whole host of improvements over the past year.

The school received a major face-lift, with the facade of the building moving out 30 feet to create space for a new commons area. Other changes include renovations of office spaces, a weight room adjacent to the cafeteria, a reinforced gym floor to keep sound from traveling into the weight room and cafeteria below, and updates to school windows for energy efficiency. Now there is even a cyber café where students can gather before or after school.

“It’s like a separate commons area, it’s wide open now,” Kennedy Principal Sean Aker said. “It took a little bit to get the furniture in there. Right before winter break we got a new set of furniture down here and up there. Before the furniture was even in, we had kids using that space to congregate, and it’s great because that’s the intent. In between classes if students have an open period, or if students have off campus first or last period but they want to stay on campus, we allow them to hang out and do their thing.”

Initial construction began last spring but there were delays. Aker said the students and staff have worked to take it all in stride.

JFK High School
890 E. Marquam St. Mount Angel
Wednesday, Jan. 20
6 – 8 p.m.
Student lead tours,
music and refreshments.
This is an opportunity for
the community to see the work
done thanks to bond money.

“There have been some delays, and we are where we are, and until things meet certain specifications, there are certain things we can’t do,” Aker said. “The teachers and the students are so accepting of change and flexible, and dedicated to seeing what needs to happen and getting it done. Anything that’s caused a problem, angst, or frustration, we’ve had a quick, ‘this is why I’m frustrated, but this is what it is, but I understand it is what it is, and this is what I’m going to do about it,’ and we’ve moved forward.”

For their part, students say they enjoy the new amenities.

“It’s different,” sophomore Hope Garcia said. “The first thing I kind of do is try to get used to the new furniture and style of the school. But I like the gym, and the commons area, and the weight room.”

Sophomore Jorge Espinoza said the gym floor feels weird.

“When you move and jump, it gives, but it’s really nice,” Espinoza said. “I think it’s important to upgrade the school so when new people come in they can be like, ‘Wow it’s a nice school, and I should come here.’ Now that we have new stuff, new office, people are going to be like, ‘I bet there are nice teachers, nice students.’”

Student body president Elisha Valladares-Cormier said the best improvement for students has been the commons area.

“Not only is (the common area) a bigger area for kids to eat lunch in, but they can also sit there and do schoolwork before and after school,” Valladares-Cormier said. “We also tried it out as a dance floor a couple of weeks ago, and it is working great, and we’re really excited to have it.”

Valladares-Cormier noted the renovations instilled a renewed a sense of student pride in the high school.

“I think renovating and making new additions makes kids want to be here, and hopefully excites them and makes them want to brag about our new stuff, and makes them more proud of being Trojans,” Valladares-Cormier said.

Staff members also see the renovations to the school as a boon to the students. Business and computer teacher – as well as JFK alumni – Robert Morrissey believes the new additions can only lead to good things.

“I think the improvements make it a nicer place for the teachers to come to but also for the students,” Morrissey said. “They can use nicer things, they can plan to take care of it with a little bit more respect, and take pride in their school. It shows up in the classroom. They’re a little more apt to be here and happier to be here. They’re proud of their school.”

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