A Renovation Story

How do you squeeze more space out of a small school? Very delicately. 

That’s what Synergy’s Buildings and Grounds Task Force discovered three years ago when it started looking into maximizing the learning spaces in a 120 year old building. It has been nearly 25 years since Synergy bought and first renovated 1387 Valencia Street, and we have grown so much since then!

We were so pleased to secure the services of a competent and time conscious architect and building contractor. Plum Architects and Hoi Construction had plenty of experience working with schools and were familiar with the short time table – 10 weeks of summer break. The $1 million project is part of a school improvement plan and was approved by the Board of Trustees for 2020, but delayed until 2021 due to coronavirus-related concerns.

A 2020 Master Plan survey of students, staff and parents, highlighted the need for classroom space, small group learning and meeting spaces, storage for Middle Schoolers belongings, and updated bathrooms. Our architect creatively helped us meet some of these pressing needs by carving out space from the large bathrooms on both floors. 

The renovation was completed just as the school opened in August 2021 for the new school year and the response of staff, teachers and kids has been overwhelmingly positive. 

The classroom dubbed the Little Room was converted from the former staff room. Cubicle dividers were replaced with a wall and dedicated door.  The space was refashioned to maximize square footage, provide instructional technology and storage for materials.

We now have several private spaces for small groups, meetings and other work to occur and all our upstairs students have new, larger lubbies (cubby/lockers) for their belongings. Our halls are decluttered with new carpeting and a fresh, cool color scheme. Students and staff can now use the facilities in clean comfort, which is a luxury not to be minimized! 

The improvements will continue to make the space more usable as we tackle the more complex and time consuming heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) upgrade. COVID-19 supply chain issues and scheduling problems have prolonged that part of the project with completion expected in Summer 2022.

The HVAC project will replace an old system with cooling for the whole building, including much needed air conditioning for second floor classrooms. Improved air flow will enhance conditions for learning, while more energy efficient systems will lighten our footprint on the earth.

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