New Look, Same Love in the Lower School

By Shailey Klein

Within the past year, Michelle Mills, Director of the Lower School, and Sharon Hogan, Lower School Administrative Assistant, took on the hefty challenge of completely renovating the Lower School building. This task has made significant gains, but is still an ongoing process.

It all started with a clock. The clock directly outside the Lower School office and above the water fountains needed to be replaced. Hogan went to purchase a new clock, and came across a large clock with pops of color, as well as a chevron background, and completely fell in love with it. The bright, colorful clock was a complete decor change for the once drab halls of the Lower School. The color and excitement that came along with this new clock kickstarted a renovation process to completely revamp the Lower School, and make it into a more welcoming environment for the young children who walk the halls everyday. 

With the purchase of the vibrant clock, Mills and Hogan took to paintbrushes and painter’s tape to brighten the walls of the school with bursts of reds, blues, yellows, greens, and even oranges. Mills and Hogan first started with the wall that housed the new clock, and created a mural with a geometric design.

They moved down the hallway toward the P.J. Manson Center, and began to paint the panels below the large windows overlooking the playground. In addition to the panels, the door to each classroom is set in the wall in a small alcove. Mills and Hogan painted each alcove a certain color, which went along with the clock at the end of the wall.

The duo completed this task on the weekends of last school year in order to brighten up the entrance to each classroom. According to Mills, this added a new excitement within the kids for the renovation, as they would be eager to come back to school and see what color their alcove would be. Another change that catches the eye when walking through the halls, are the lockers, which have been painted red. Mills explained that it was the only color that had not been used anywhere, and they wanted to pull the red from the clock. 

The two coworkers stayed after hours throughout the entire summer, transforming the Lower School into what we see today. Significant contributions came from the amazing maintenance crew, especially Bobby Kramer. Affectionately called “Mr. Bobby”, he, along with his fellow maintenance crew, did much of the heavy lifting, specifically with the floor replacement. The Lower School was previously carpeted throughout the entire school (besides the bathrooms and P.J. Manson Center), but was replaced with a brand new soft tile, which is better equipped for the wear and tear of an elementary school. The new tile has a geometric design, with each hallway having its own color. For example, the hallway going toward the P.J. Manson Center is now called the “blue hallway”. Not only do the new floors freshen up the space, it also provides an easier way to address each section of the Lower School. 

One of the largest transformations, however, occurred in the P.J. Manson Center. The floors, which had sported light blue tile for decades, were replaced with the new soft tiles which run throughout the hallways. The accordion doors, in addition to the shelving in the back of the room, were removed to open up the space.

The loft area overlooking the P.J. Manson Center was also cleaned out and turned into an organized teacher supply area, making it much easier for the Lower School teachers to find supplementary supplies which can be used in their classrooms. “We have clear tubs with all our math manipulatives,” Mills said. “There’s everything from clocks to scales to number discs for the teachers to use,” she continued enthusiastically.

At the front of the P.J. Manson Center, the stage tiles were replaced with all black tiles, which make less noise when students are performing. In addition, all of the walls and ceiling of the stage were painted black, making the focus on the students during their performances. 

Overall, the transformation in the Lower School has made the building a more vibrant and exciting environment for the students, faculty, staff, and parents. Mills hopes to revamp everything from renovating the bathrooms to replacing the accordion doors as soon as possible. With all the progress that has been made, it is exciting to see what the future holds for the Lower School!

Photos by Shailey Klein

About the author: Shailey Klein is a junior at Oak Hall and is excited to be writing for “The Talon” this year! She’s on the varsity volleyball and lacrosse teams and is interested in pursuing a career in Sports Journalism/Broadcasting. She’s looking forward to an amazing year connecting everyone from the Lower School to the Upper School in every way, from arts to athletics!