Two years after construction of the new South Medford High School started, crews have begun moving the contents from the old school to the new one.
Crews on Sunday began moving student desks and chairs from the circa-1931 campus on South Oakdale Avenue near downtown to the new campus at the intersection of Columbus and Cunningham avenues in southwest Medford.
On Monday, harried teachers, exhausted from finals and grading, packed up their classrooms in the old South. They labeled each box with their last name and room number and consigned the boxes to a cadre of more than 40 temporary workers hired by the Medford School District to make the move to the new 255,000-square-foot school.
"We just finished the end of the school year and the push toward graduation," said Principal Kevin Campbell.
"Everyone is very tired, but it's still very busy. There is a lot of activity and excitement."
Movers carted in boxes and desks to one of five buildings on the new South's expansive, 42-acre campus.
The move is expected to continue through Friday, Campbell said.
He said he's noticed mixed emotions among the staff as they've been packing up their classrooms.
"You have people who love our old building," Campbell said. "It's been a fixture in their career for a long time. However, there's a ton of excitement."
English teacher Mary Boyarsky said she's looking forward to having standardized heating and air-conditioning and adequate electrical and technical wiring in the new building, all of which is lacking in the old building.
"It'll be wonderful to be in the new school," said Boyarsky, who has worked at South for 11 years.
Some teachers reminisced about their days at the old school.
History teacher Jon Barry said during his first year teaching at South, he and his students managed to lose the school's master key and flood the gymnasium with an errant ball that broke a pipe in the fire sprinkler system. Despite the accident-prone start, he has taught at South for 18 years.
"I've had some good years here, but there's something really invigorating to do something in a new place," Barry said.
The new campus was paid for with more than $80 million in schoolhouse bond funds approved by voters in 2006. The five school buildings are two stories high with state-of-the-art technology and environmental features that bring in indirect natural light on both floors. Some rooms, such as the commons/cafeteria area and the gymnasium, take up two floors with balcony hallways wrapping around them. The classrooms have charcoal-color linoleum floors, while the hallways are colored a bright blue.
The buildings wrap around a grassy courtyard divided up by cement islands soon to be furnished with park benches.
Construction is complete in all of the buildings except the technical arts building and the theater, which is at the main entrance adjacent to the commons/cafeteria area. The buildings will be finished by the end of the month, said Mike Day, South project manager.
Work on the multipurpose practice field, track, baseball and softball fields has been delayed because of recent rainy weather, Day said. Crews are expected to lay out those artificial turf fields by the end of July, just in time for football practice. The school will continue to hold games at Spiegelberg Stadium at the old South on South Oakdale, though practice will be held at the new school.
The school has a capacity for about 2,000 pupils and a total of about 80 instructional spaces, including the two gymnasiums and shops, Day said. That's roughly the same size as the old building, but the new campus appears massive in comparison because it's so spread out, Day said.
Once the move is complete, construction crews will tackle the old building to remove asbestos and remodel parts of it in preparation for moving the district's central office and the district's alternative school, Medford Opportunity High School, into the old South.
Medford Opportunity students, who have been attending classes in lease space on Earhart Street, will begin attending the old South in the fall.
Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.