After years of dodging hard hat zones and teaching over the sound of jackhammers, Sierra Sands Unified School District held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday to celebrate what is essentially the end of major construction at Burroughs High School and the new Murray Middle School campus.
Burroughs principal Bryan Auld said that it's a ceremonial end of construction celebration because there is still a bit of work to be done, notably finishing up the new, city-facing administration building for Burroughs. Even so, the major work is done.
SSUSD held a celebration that started in the Burroughs library, complete with music from the Burroughs band and a Navy flyover. In attendance were congressman Kevin McCarthy, California state Sen. Jean Fuller, acting assistant for manpower and reserve activities Robert L. Woods, Kern County first district supervisor Mick Gleason, and many other guests SSUSD invited to the event.
During a speech at the new Murray gym on the new Murray campus, Fuller said, "Working in legislation, we don't always feel a sense of accomplishment every day. Today, I feel a sense of accomplishment."
The construction project goes all the way back to 2010 when the Department of Defense sent teams to check the state of school facilities on American military facilities. The team required many changes to the Burroughs campus and the Murray campus, which led to significant construction at both schools to renovate Burroughs and give Murray an entirely new campus.
The Department of Defense also largely funded the construction by providing grants for 80 percent of the work, while SSUSD made up for the other 20 percent.
Both Auld and Murray principal Kirsti Smith commented on how much the construction has helped. Auld stated that the current Burroughs administration building still faces into the empty desert because, decades ago, that area was full of neighborhoods. He mentioned that the old heating and air conditioning units were disruptively loud and unable to individualize control to each class.
Smith said that the old Murray campus was built to last 50 years, yet they were still there well over 70 years after it was originally built. She recalled the Department of Defense team asking her how she even managed to carry on in the facility. She said she managed to do it because of the great people working with her.
Now, she has those great people working with her and she has modern facilities.
Auld told guests that some of the most significant changes in the classrooms are the heating and air conditioning unit, but also a speaker system and additional technology like smart boards which open up a new realm of creative possibilities in the class. In addition to the renovated classrooms, Burroughs was also able to move all of its lockers from outside to inside the halls, a change that students will likely appreciate when the warmer temperatures roll in. Burroughs also received a number of other updates to its sports facilities and even a new coat of paint.
In addition to talking about the new facilities, Smith brought attention to Murray's brand new gym. She said the previous Murray campus didn't even have a gym, and now they have one of the most modern gyms in town. As guests entered the gym on Friday, many oohed and aahed at the facility.