09/25/11 — Norwayne, Eastern Wayne move into modular units

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Norwayne, Eastern Wayne move into modular units

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 25, 2011 1:50 AM

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Students in Chelsea Duffy's math class at Norwayne Middle School work on an assignment. Approximately 370 seventh-graders at the school moved into the modular unit last week, in anticipation of a construction and remodeling project starting in January and expected to take about 18 months to complete. A similar project will also be going on at Eastern Wayne Middle School, where an estimated 270 students moved into modular classrooms earlier in the month.

A month into the school year, students at Norwayne and Eastern Wayne middle schools, where an 18-month demolition and construction project is expected to begin in January, have been moved into the modular units that were delivered last spring.

The units had arrived in anticipation of being ready for occupancy when school began on Aug. 25, but that didn't quite play out, officials said.

"It took a long time. We were all planned to be in there when the school year started," said Mario Re, principal at Norwayne. "We had the stuff all ready. It didn't pass inspection the first two times, something with the phone line hooked up with the fire alarm.

"And then when the hurricane came, that delayed phone people getting in there."

Teachers at the school even came in over the weekend of Sept. 18 to set up classrooms, he said, and students made the shift on Monday.

The modular unit at Norwayne, which allows the students to all be under one roof, features 12 classrooms, two student bathrooms and two staff bathrooms. It is the new home for the entire seventh grade -- all 370 students.

At Eastern Wayne, the inclusive unit contains seven classrooms and a resource room for eighth-graders, a reading lab for grades six through eight, a workroom, conference room/storage/nurses' office, a room for the NC Wise data manager, guidance counselor and social worker, and an area for the main office, bookkeeper and principal.

"We moved in and began utilizing/teaching in the modular unit on Friday, Sept. 2," said Principal Cathy Eubanks. "We have 215 students that are housed inside the modular unit."

While the administrative area is part of the mobile structure, located in the center of the campus, the exception is the assistant principal's office, which remains on the other side of the grounds for better accessibility, Mrs. Eubanks said.

"The transition has been really smooth," she said. "The only thing I have had to divert is traffic from one side of the campus. ... I actually think that our supervision and everything is better.

"It's clean, it's new, the kids are excited and we're ready to see some buildings come down."

Re said his staff had also been prepared for the changes, despite the unanticipated delays.

The biggest glitch, he pointed out, has centered around safety issues, starting with the traffic pattern around the school.

He said he has created a crosswalk, training students to follow the lines and educating drivers coming into the parking lot.

"We're very over-cautious," Re said, adding that the traffic changes contributed to the move being delayed. "We have phones over there so I do have communication over there, but there's no announcements because there's no intercom system."

With an increasing student population -- Norwayne currently has an estimated enrollment of 1,100, making it the county's largest middle school -- having access to communication is essential, Re said.

"It's really hard without the intercom system," he said. "We're trying to work out something with the phones."

So far, though, the principal said students have responded favorably to their new surroundings.

"They like it, but when you have 32 kids -- they looked bigger, the classrooms, when they were empty -- there's some echoes over there but they're tight classrooms," Re said.