New Lights, New Life at Carl Sandburg Middle School


Rebecca Tamblyn

Exposed wiring and plumbing in Sandburg hallways illustrates to students the renovations in progress.

Rebecca Tamblyn, Reporter

Carl Sandburg Middle School was a facility in great need of renovation and updating. In October 2012, the school began to make some necessary changes to the grounds and the building itself, using a $44 million bond issue approved the year before by Fairfax County voters. Their plans include the renovation of the building’s entire interior, re-doing the parking lot, changing the “kiss-and-ride” pattern, putting new sod in, and planting new trees. The building will become a much more pleasant environment for students and staff. “The building is going to be brighter, larger, and full of new technology,” says Principal Terrence Yarborough.

Some of the benefits for the faculty will be a small addition for the new main office suite and staff restrooms throughout the building. New and improved restrooms throughout the school will include automatic toilets and hands-free sinks.

One important aspect of any renovation is the issue of safety and ensuring that everyone involved is protected. All faculty and members of the construction crew are required to wear identification badges at all times to ensure the security of students as they transition to classes in the trailers outside.

In order to keep the students, and staff safe throughout this process, temporary walls have been put up in order to block off the areas that could be hazardous. Because these changes are being made during the school year, some extra measures have been taken in order to keep the schedule running smoothly. Many of the teachers have switched classrooms, or have to move from room to room during the day — in some cases, as many times as the students do.

While most changes going on at the school are causing many issues for the students now, they will make a difference for West Potomac in coming years. “I think that although the Sandburg renovations may be inconvenient right now, they will be great in the long run,” said eighth grader Jenna Martin. “They have taught us to adapt to changes, and to get to classes quickly and efficiently, skills that we will need to thrive at West Potomac.” The adaptive skills that students are learning during this time of adjustment could prove very useful in the larger and fuller buildings of West Potomac.

With any kind of renovation there are many inconveniences for the people involved. Sandburg administrative assistant Lorin Clark says that “the biggest inconveniences so far were lockers being moved and teachers doubling up.”

So far,  there have been no unexpected obstacles or problems with the work going on, and students, teachers, and parents have all made sacrifices and adjustments. “I think we have all done a fantastic job of being flexible and adapting to changing situations. When new areas are renovated, staff and students see that the inconveniences are worth it in the
end” says Yarborough. According to the PTA President and  Sandburg parent Laura Fortsch, “the renovations seem to be running smoothly and the new spaces are bright and inviting and foster a successful learning environment for all students at Sandburg.”

Not only will the changes be beneficial for those at the middle school now and those to come, but they will also making the students’ transitions to high school smoother. The new and anticipated campus is expected to be completed by the Spring of 2015.