Other than a little background noise, it seemed like a normal lunch period outside the main entrance of Ferndale High School on September 9. Students were chatting and eating on the sunny morning day, while a few school staff observed. It was difficult to tell there was a massive, active construction site happening just a couple hundred yards away.
Most students don’t attend classes in the midst of an active construction site, which will make this school year and the next unique ones for the Golden Eagles at Ferndale High School. But leaders at both the school and Cornerstone General Contractors are making a great effort to ensure student safety and keep classes running smoothly while the new FHS is being built next door.
“What we’re trying to get across to the students would be two things: Number one, be excited about the future and getting a new school,” said Eric Tripp, one of FHS’ assistant principals. “Number two, what it’s going to take between now and then is for students to be aware and stay on the pathways located outside the construction area.”
Students have clearly marked walkways laid out for them whenever they travel from one building on the FHS campus to another. At the moment, the one building that requires additional supervision to access is the greenhouse, which is located at the eastern edge of campus next to the construction equipment’s entryway. Whenever a class needs to enter the greenhouse, a flagger from Cornerstone directs student traffic to avoid any collisions, said Marcus Comer, the project manager from Cornerstone.
Cornerstone and high school staff have launched an information campaign to explain some simple rules about learning next to a construction site: stay on the pathways, don’t throw trash or anything else onto the construction site, and don’t interact with the workers. The high school and Cornerstone even created a short back-to-school video – starring Tripp, Comer, FHS Principal Ravinder Dhillon and student body president Breanna Bouldin – reminding students of the construction site rules.
So far, students have been very conscientious about these rules, Tripp said.
“We haven’t had one incident to this point,” he said. “Right now, they’re doing a fantastic job.”
In the near future, the contractors working on the construction site plan to provide FHS students with a chance to explore jobs in their fields, Tripp said. Cornerstone is working on setting up a program to allow students to observe the construction, he said.
“There’s going to be some opportunities for kids to go, ‘You know what, I could see myself out there. How do I get out there and become a welder, a plumber, an electrician?’” Tripp said.