PRINCETON, WV, August 1, 2012:  Let it never be said that principals don’t get their hands dirty!  Oakvale Elementary Principal Ernie Adkins has spent the summer in boots and a hard hat, moving classrooms and offices, discarding obsolete materials, and answering a million questions.  All around him, the crew of Swope Construction has demolished the pre-1960 portions of Oakvale School and are now at work shoring up the remaining building for the first day of school.

Last fall, the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA) awarded the district a little more than $5 million to construct a new 23,000 foot building on the site of Oakvale School to house classrooms, media center, cafeteria, and offices.  The new portion will adjoin the gymnasium/ classroom wing and occupy approximately the same footprint as the old building, but set back about 60 feet from Goodwin’s Chapel Road to allow for a parent drop-off loop and new bus drive. 

Unlike the old school, the new building will be ADA compliant and have fire suppression. Designed for elementary students, the new school be sized, equipped, and wired for young 21stcentury learners.

Meanwhile, construction crews are making accommodations that will enable the existing building to remain fully operational throughout the construction.  “Every teacher and every class will have their own room this year,” Adkins assures parents. “A state-of-the-art portable kitchen is now on-site, and we will be set up to run students through the serving line on the gymnasium stage, with tables and chairs on the gym floor.”

Crews are also at work closing up the windows on the gym where the new construction will abut and installing heat and ventilation in the gym—an area previously fed by boilers in the old building. 

“My head custodian, Phil Blevins, has gone above and beyond to help us work through the changes,” Adkins said.

Adkins says safety for the children will be tantamount.  “I will have procedures in place to guarantee that children are supervised at all times.  Every teacher will do bus duty – not just one.  Whenever children are outside, things will be very controlled and very organized. 

Because the cordoned-off construction zone covers the entire area below the school, an agreement with a nearby property owner will make it possible for students to access the school’s playground and walking track.  “Mrs. Brenda Meadows has been phenomenal,” Adkins said.  “She has done this basically out of the goodness of her heart.” 

Mercer County Schools maintenance employees are constructing a set of stairs on a bank on Meadow’s property by which students can temporarily reach the track and play equipment.

The new Oakvale Elementary School is projected to open in August 2013 – an excelerated timetable that leaves little room for down time.  “It is really amazing how coordinated this effort has been and how much has been accomplished since June,” Adkins said.  “They are on schedule, and we’ll be ready for students on the 27th.”

Demo on site

Gym Work

New Exit

Phil Blevins

Portable Kitchen

Stairs to Track