By Rom Arca, Clarion Staff Reporter
On November 27, HMC Architects will begin work on John F. Kennedy High School’s modernized facade, which has not received any major renovations since 2006.
The project will cover the Administration Office, Student Services Office and M-Wing in two phases spanning two years, in an effort to bolster security for the campus and modernize both the administration office area and the Music Wing.
“One of the major objectives is to increase the security of the campus,” says Kennedy Principal David Van Natten.
Outside campus, the security upgrades include refacing the entrance and adding a gate. Van Natten believes that the improvements in the school front will boost security by granting the school a “a much greater control [of] who is on campus.”
“One of the major objectives is to increase safety and security by reducing the number of entrances and exits, and to ensure that anybody who comes in through the front of the school has to essentially… check in with a staff,” Van Natten said.
Besides beefing up security outside, the school will also implement key changes inside the Administration Office and the new College and Career Center, which replaces the Student Services Center. The redesign inside will “eliminate keys of both buildings in favor of [access] cards” that will provide varying levels of access to the staff.
Kennedy Meets Modernity
The project is likewise expected to reface the facade for a more modern look, swapping the section’s current heavy use of wood for more glass and steel. The use of glass will allow more natural light to come in.
Meanwhile, the redesign in the M-Wing will also benefit the band and music program, which has grown “to such an extent that [the M-Wing] is just too small,” according to Van Natten, adding that “[the M-Wing] no longer serves their needs.”
“It will provide them… a larger overall band room, and so a facility that is much more modern and more appropriate in terms of acoustics for music,” Van Natten stated.
Breaking Ground Soon
While plans for the project were divulged to teachers in summer of 2018, they have been publicly promoted only recently—with representatives promulgating the project in school events such as orientation and Back-to-School Night.
Van Natten disclosed that the first of two phases begins during Thanksgiving break and is expected to be completed by Aug. 10, 2020.
“They will start with the Music Wing…Behavior Office and Athletic Director,” says Van Natten, who also revealed that the Counseling Office will follow suit.
The 10-month Phase 1 will displace the rooms and offices in the M- and A1-Wings to the V-Wing and auditorium, which will serve as the makeshift room for music teacher Jeremy Hammond.
Van Natten sets the timeframe for the relocation around spring of 2020, although the plan is yet to be finalized.
“It’s still a little bit tentative. We don’t know with certainty how the schedule will fall out, but the plan is for any office area that is displaced [to relocate] to the V-Wing.”
On the other hand, Phase 2 begins Aug. 11, 2020 and ends Feb. 2, 2021. With construction finished in the M- and A1-Wings by then, Phase 2 will feature works on the A2-Wing as well as on the front parking lot.
Moreover, the renovation is part of a bigger, district-wide project funded by local school bonds Measure Q and a supplementary Measure R that were both passed in 2012 to upgrade school facilities and security.