Camden school renovation features dual use cafeteria/instructional space

WORK IN PROGRESS — An exterior view of the Camden High School cafateria shows that sidewalk installation outside the building is on-going. The school’s parking lot will be replaced this summer.

NEW SPACE — Angled walls and new lighting fixtures give the new cafeteria at Camden High School a more modern look. School officials said they plan to use the space for instructional purposes and group meetings in addition to dining. (Sentinel photos by John Clifford)

CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES — Exposed ceilings at Camden High School show that construction work is still in progress. The tiles should be replaced this summer.

CAMDEN — School Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey K. Bryant said Camden’s new high school cafeteria was designed to function as an "instructional space," as well as dining area.

It includes a concession stand for sporting events. The room can also function as a meeting place with movable wall dividers giving the capability to divide the area into three separate rooms. Light Emitting Diode or LED lighting reflects the Blue Devils’ hue onto the white textured walls. There are also flat-screen televisions that can broadcast educational programming or video clips from school games.

The cafeteria is heated from the ground up through the floor tiles. There will be a stamped concrete area just outside the cafeteria, near the entrance to the room from the outside, where picnic tables will be located, giving students the option to dine or study outdoors. There is also a new vestibule with benches at one of the main school entrances near the cafeteria, where student athletes can wait to be picked up after sporting events.

The superintendent and faculty said the new cafeteria has been "the buzz" of all the students since they saw it for the first time this week.

"It’s very welcoming," Bryant said. "It doesn’t look like a cafeteria area both inside and out."

The new kitchen area includes two large roll-up doors where an array of food selections is provided to the students. All food preparation is done at the location. There is a docking area where kitchen workers receive shipments of food items, as well as dry and frozen storage areas for food. The area includes a separate section for frying and salad preparation.

"Our cafeteria workers actually helped design the new kitchen," Bryant said. "Students and staff have been phenomenal and very patient and understanding as the construction here has progressed."

Bryant said construction work is also under way at the Administration Building at 51 Third St., neighboring the middle school. A new parking lot at the building will go up this summer, along with a new, raised parking lot at the high school. Other recently completed renovations at the high school include the installation of energy-efficient windows and lighting, a heating and ventilation system, electricity, asbestos abatement, new restrooms near the auditorium to accommodate the fine arts area and new tiling in the hallways. The auditorium has a new curtain and rigging system, lights and a sound system.

In the hallways near the auditorium there will be four new showcases, as opposed to two, displaying team trophies and photos. There will also be cases for students’ artwork.

"There will be glass encasements" for paintings, photographs and other two-dimensional work, "and glass cases" for sculptures, "with the thought of highlighting the students," the superintendent said. "We’re also adding additional display cases for trophies and photos. In the future, we plan to digitize the (old) photos and have them shown on TVs."

Ceiling tiles will also be installed in the high school’s hallways this summer. As for spring construction, site work has already begun at Camden, McConnellsville, Annsville and North Bay elementary schools.

At Camden Elementary, "we already have permanent fencing going up," Bryant said. A new bus loop will also be constructed at the school. Roofs and some doors will be replaced at Annsville, McConnellsville and North Bay. All work at the elementary schools combined will be about $2 million, the superintendent said.

The total operating budget for Camden in the 2011-12 school year is $43.9 million. Total enrollment, Pre-K through 12, is currently 2,398.