School builders celebrate ‘highly successful project’

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2008

FRANKLIN—Even as the workers involved in the Riverdale Elementary School gathered for lunch Tuesday to celebrate the work done, the building has not been completed.

School Board members, Powell Management Associates, Blueridge General and Moseley Architects gathered in front of Riverdale Elementary to celebrate what Brian Camden of Powell Management called a &uot;highly successful project.&uot;

The work on Riverdale Elementary School, which started in March 2007, is set to be completed in three weeks, and the school will open with nearly 600 students to start the next school year.

Hunterdale Elementary will not close its doors in response to Riverdale Elementary opening its doors. Instead, Hunterdale will be used for special programs, while teachers and faculty will be transferred to the new school.

In the three weeks before the doors open, work will still be in high gear. Although the outside of the building looks almost completed, the inside looks far from finished.

The floor tiles are still being laid, the kitchen is still being set up, carpet has yet to be laid, and the playground, without its fence or wood mulch, is not complete. There’s still a ways to go, it seems, but Camden says the project is on schedule.

Not only will the project be completed on time, but it will be completed on budget, Camden said.

The $13 million spent on the 84,000 square feet of the school is actually below the average for the state for dollar per square foot, said Chris Crowder, the construction supervisor for Powell Management.

No shortcuts were taken, however. Camden said the school had &uot;all the bells and whistles&uot; and that it was a &uot;first class operation.&uot;

Key card entries and cameras at all exterior doors, a separate drive for buses, wooden doors for all the classrooms, interior rooms without windows and a fenced-in playground were all installed in the name of security.

Wireless Internet, two computer rooms with 30 stations each and energy-efficient motion-detecting lights make the school technologically superb.

Extras like a cafeteria with two serving lines, two soccer fields, two baseball fields and an asphalt basketball court, a multipurpose gym that houses bleachers, a full basketball court and two half basketball courts that can be transformed into volleyball courts are a child’s dream come to life.

The school fits a teacher’s dream too with plenty of cubby space, coat racks and storage places for teaching materials, which were all designed to eliminate clutter. Teachers will enjoy a canopy at the bus stop.

The school attempts to eliminate any confusion for students by color coding the hallways. Red for kindergarten and first, yellow for administration—each grade, kindergarten through fifth, was designated a color.

Riverdale Elementary was modeled after the Meherrin and Nottoway schools. Riverdale’s capacity is 700 students, but the cafeteria alone can hold up to 250 students.

Planners, school officials said, also made plenty of room for expansion.