What began as a desire to make the Houston Christian School more accessible to those with mobility limitations has evolved into a larger project meeting a variety of needs.
As soon as school ends in late June, work will start on adding a ramp to allow easier access to a playground area, a large boot room and two classrooms.
It was the playground, finished a couple of years ago, that sparked the project because there was a two-foot elevation change between the end of the school to the playground, explained Wendall Ewald, a school administrator.
“We needed a ramp down to the playground area and for every inch of elevation, you need one foot of ramp. So with a two-foot drop, that meant a 24-foot ramp,” he said.
With a requirement also to have a turning/landing area so as to break up the 24-foot slope of the ramp, Ewald said the school decided that it then made sense to incorporate a boot room and two classrooms as part of the project.
The extra space means the school will be able to move back educational and other material stored in sea cans across the road.
And with a concentration now on small group learning, students and teachers that had been gathering in tiny areas elsewhere in the school will now have more room.
“We also have split classes, Grade 5 and 6 for instance, so when these classrooms are finished we’ll be able to teach math to the Grade 5 students separately from Grade 6 and that will be better for learning,” Ewald said.
And for students in the senior grades, having additional classroom space means an increased ability to offer a variety of courses.
“So in this project we are really meeting a variety of needs,” Ewald added.
Construction plans also call for infloor heating of the boot room area, something that will come in handy during the winter months when students will be coming in and shedding snow off of boots and clothes.
Having heated floors means the melted snow will evaporate, something that will add humidity to the otherwise dry winter climate, Ewald said.
The addition will increase the number of classrooms to 14 for a school K-12 population that is now edging over the 160 mark.
“We very close to what was our highest level of 163-165 students,” said Ewald.
Money for the project has come from a variety of sources and means, including online auctions and donations.
“We’ve had very good support from the community and tons of parent support for this project,” said Ewald.
The project contractor, Mark Opdendries, a member of the parent community himself, will be moving in with his crew as soon as students are finished the end of June.
“He’s saying he can really keep the costs down with the help of three or four parent volunteers and we’re looking at finishing this fall,” said Ewald.
Other aspects of the project include an accessible washroom and automatic door openers and appropriate hardware.