The Casper area has seen an abundance of school construction over the last year, including the completion of a new school: Southridge Elementary. However one Casper based junior high’s improvements are flying under the radar. MOA Architecture Principal Brandon Daigle says, "Structurally the existing building is in great shape. So what it’s needed is a facelift and some infrastructure improvements."
Dean Morgan Junior High school is one of the many Casper schools under construction, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the outside. The junior high, which was first built in the 1950’s, is underground a complete restructure of the interior. Dean Morgan Junior High Principal Walt Wilcox says, "Renovating spaces, adjusting to space, working on infrastructure, mechanical components and basically brining a school up to speed that's set to work on education and instruction for the needs of kids of today."
This is the first major construction the building has undergone since ti first opened its doors; and over the last 60 years education in general has changed. "With high access devices and we look at technology. Two or three outlets in a room doesn’t necessarily take care of a need of 30 to 32 students and what they're using with their technology tools in the classroom," Wilcox said.
The construction crews are taking a different approach: during the day the halls are filled with students and faculty, but by night the echoes of power tools can be heard. "The whole construction process was designed on purpose to not impact the types of learning, assessment, what was going on during the day and so you'll see our school get flooded basically right at the end of the day and sometimes working all the way through 2 or 3 am in the morning," Wilcox said.
This type of construction can have both positive and negative effects, as you’re limited on space. "Availability of storage space has been a big challenge. Typically on a project you have on-site storage and when you in an existing building there's no storage for you," Daigle said, but it’s cheaper. "We're able to give them the aesthetic and the amenities of a modern building for the fraction of the cost for what a new constructed building would cost," Daigle said.