As time went on, the school population grew. In the 1980′s, a trailer was added to the East end of the school. Called, “The Outback”, it was the classroom for two second grade classes. In order for the children and teachers to go to art, music, PE, lunch, or anywhere, they had to exit the trailer and enter the back door of the school. This worked, but there were other places where the school felt small, such as the special areas of art, music, and PE. The original school was built for grades, 1-4. The PE area was not a gym, per se, but a movement room with a tile floor and metal radiators that jutted out from the wall at each end of the room. Both the art room and the music room were small and the air circulation poor. There were ventilation problems in other areas of the school and there were a variety of new regulations that needed to be met from the addition of sprinkler systems to lighted Exit signs over the doors leading outside…in a building where every room had an exit door. The children ate their lunches in the Multi which was unacceptable by state regulations.
In the early 1990′s, the School Board decided it was time to renovate the Ray School to bring the building up to standards and to add on new classrooms to meet the needs of the projected growth in population. It was also time to add a regulation sized gym with a wood floor, a renovated art room, a kitchen and a music classroom/performing area/school assembly hall.
Debra Grabill, School Board Chair at that time and Smith Reed, member of the School Board met recently to tell the story of the renovation.
There were many good reasons for the additions and the renovations they said. There were issues of fire suppression in the walls, rugs and roof. There were issues of allergens and sound, all different issues from those when the building was first built. Smith said, “It didn’t seem that there could be one solution that could make everyone happy.” Sometimes, it felt like a painful process. Everyone was included. The teachers, the students, and a large building committee of 12 -14 members.
Though children were moving into Hanover, the population of Hanover was such that a very large number of the population either had never, or no longer, had children involved with the school. This also had to be considered and respected when making plans for the new building project. Deb said that the Principal, Loretta Murphy, was incredibly helpful. She proved to be a “patient clerk of works.” Also, Greg Hemberger, the representative from the architect firm of Banwell and White, proved incredibly patient. “He listened to everyone,” Deb said, “and kept bringing us back to ‘school program’.” She felt he showed a great deal of wisdom as he kept programs in mind while working to stay within the budget. Despite the many conversations, or more likely, because people took so much time for the conversations, things began to fall into place. The building “…always lent itself to renovation,” said Deb, which was lucky.
As they thought of more considerations that had to be included in the discussions, anticipating the future came up. Along with meeting the needs of the day the Board and committee had to “recognize program changes,” Deb said. They had to consider programs such as the after school program, (HASP). Where would they meet and keep their stuff? And, they wanted the spaces such as the gym and the music area to include community use….and there was so much more to consider, like the drop-off and parking situation. The whole process said Deb was one of “shared love.” Smith admitted that at times we “…did feel the Board was losing control of the process.” There were times when, “…by involving so many,” he wondered, “if they had walked into a train wreck.” But, Smith added, “People were dedicated to taking issues to a successful conclusion.” When the architect came back with the anticipated cost of over four million dollars, Deb said, I remember Steve Rosof, a Board Member, said, “I’m staggered.”
“He was anticipating the community’s response,” she said. They went back to the drawing boards and returned with a figure under four million. The bond passed and the renovations and additions were made.
It ended a true community effort. Deb said, “A strong feature of the culture of this community is that people wanted to make it work.”