Staff puts final touches on school building in preparation for first day of school
By Suzanne Misciagna, Staff Writer, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH – While students in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District are enjoying the last lazy days of summer, Patton Middle School staff are busy putting the finishing touches on several projects undertaken this summer, in anticipation of Monday’s first day of classes in the district.
To say it has been a busy summer at Patton is putting it mildly. Vast improvements have been made to the school, both inside and out, in preparation for students walking through the doors for the new school year Monday.
“Our goal is to make Patton Middle School all about our students,” says Patton Middle School Principal, Tim Hoffman. “When you walk in a school, it should tell you what the school is about, reflecting the interests, passions, and work of the students,” Hoffman adds.
Creating this kind of space is exactly what the Patton Middle School staff set out to do this summer. But the challenges of working within a building built in the early 1970’s can be daunting.
First and foremost on the list was brightening the school’s interior spaces to counterbalance the school’s limited number of windows and crowded hallways.
This summer, the walls in the main hallways were painted a bright white color to lighten up the interior space. New ceiling tiles were installed throughout the school. A new lighting system was also installed with lights twice as bright as the previous lights but which require half the energy to operate. The new lighting and ceiling tiles have greatly improved the overall brightness of the classrooms.
Another summer project – updating the Patton cafeteria.
“Our goal was to make this space about the kids – a living and breathing space that the kids help create,” says Hoffman.
During the last school year, students voted on a theme to adorn the walls of the school’s two lunch rooms. The verdict? A 1950’s diner theme complete with black and white checkered walls.
Hoffman describes the transformation of the school cafeteria as a “total team effort.” Patton Middle School students painted the walls along with Patton parents and members of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Patton’s custodial and grounds staff were also instrumental in bringing this transformation to life.
Students also had the chance to put their creative stamp outside the cafeteria. An array of student photographs depicting close ups of objects in and around the school are proudly displayed near the cafeteria entrance.
Throughout the building, interior walls have been painted purple and gold to reflect the Patton school colors. In addition, a new logo for the Patton Hawks has been created along with new spirit wear items for students to wear in support of their school.
Perhaps one of the most exciting changes for students is sure to be outdoors with the addition of a new outdoor basketball court.
“The new outdoor basketball court was designed to have a community park type of feel,” says Hoffman.
The court, sporting the Patton school colors and logo, also includes seating for players and spectators to enjoy. Money from one of the school’s major fundraisers and PTO donations was used to create this community space. The new basketball court will be available for school and community use.
The surrounding fields near the basketball court were updated with new signage numbering each field. The signage was donated by the Unionville Recreation Association. Many of these fields are used by the school as well as local sports organizations for baseball, lacrosse, and soccer. The new signage will make it easier for students and parents to locate the correct field for sports practices and games.
The landscaping around the school has also been updated with colorful bushes and flowers giving it a curb-friendly appeal.
The school’s vegetable gardens received some additional help too. A car port was installed in the front parking lot with solar panels to help power the school’s greenhouses. This is all part of the school’s Patton Project – a branch of the Family Consumer Science (FCS) Course offered to eighth grade students who volunteer their time in planting and maintaining garden beds and greenhouses throughout the Patton campus. The harvest is then collected and donated to the Chester County Food Bank along with some of the harvest being used in the school’s cafeteria. The school was able to obtain the new solar panels through the donation of a local vendor, Tri-M. This is all part of the school’s commitment to renewable energy and power.
Hoffman’s philosophy for Patton Middle School is simple – “Middle school students need to find a place of identity, a place of belonging.”
It looks like all of these projects were designed to do just that.