Dozens of volunteers help out, save school $10,000
Joanne Amaru smiled broadly as she watched dozens of volunteers swarming the "underground mall" site that has housed Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School since 1995. A remarkable group of parents, teachers, students, alumni and community members turned up Saturday morning to help the school move classroom furniture and teaching materials from the old campus to the new school at the site of the former Regal Cinema multiplex on Route 137 in East Harwich.
"There goes one of our very first students…. That’s a founding board member we haven’t seen in ages. This is the mother of one of our first-year students….", observed Mrs. Amaru, a long-time social studies teacher at the school who is entering her second year as Associate Director.
The volunteers moved virtually everything from the old school--marker boards, pencil sharpeners, every chair and desk. In a typical public school construction project, most furniture and fixture are replaced when a new school is built. By bringing that material with them, CCLCS saved tens of thousands of dollars.
The volunteers themselves saved the school a lot of money, according to business manager Karen Scichilone. She told CapeCodToday.com that the school had estimates from movers of "around $10,000".
CCLCS’ old campus was in what Orleans residents call "the underground mall", a system of concrete domes built into a hillside back in the early 1980s. Many classrooms had no windows, ceilings were low and cavern-like. Dehumifiers were observed in many classrooms. Because the property was originally designed as a retail shopping center, there were few traditional corridors and many classrooms seemed to flow into each other. With dew points pushing 75 on Saturday, there was a pronounced dank aroma about the place.
Contrast the old campus to the new facility in East Harwich. The new building has large windows in every room, plenty of natural light, high ceilings and wide corridors. There is a large multi-purpose room where school-wide gatherings can be facilitated. The centrally-air-conditioned building was quite comfortable and permeated with the aroma of “newness”.
Many features at the new school stand out such as the obvious care taken in the design of the science classrooms, which have more than ample cabinet storage, operational sinks and excellent counter-top workspace. Little surprise there, since CCLCS Director Paul Niles is a science teacher himself.
The building still needs a few finishing touches, as evidenced by wires waiting to receive lighting fixtures and other "punch list" items.
Virtually nothing of the old theater remains in the public spaces. The second floor storage space has a few vestiges of the property’s former use, but those are limited to the stairways and a few discernible features.
CCLS spent about $4 million to purchase and renovate their new school, less than a recent window and roof maintenance project at Nauset Regional High School. As reported in May, Cape Cod’s two charter schools can teach the traditional schools a few things about thrift.
Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School will finalize its move in the next few weeks as punch list items are completed and final occupancy permits are issued.
Once the "wow factor" wears off, the students and teachers will get back to the work of learning – this time in a bright, clean, spacious school building.