A Winning Combination for Helping to Improve the Educational Experience
In September 2011, flooding from Tropical Storm Lee forced the closure of the Danville Middle School in Danville, PA. The auditorium was 8 feet under water, and most classrooms, hallways, the library, the cafeteria, and the gymnasium had several feet of water as well. Serving as the hub for the school district’s computer servers and communication equipment, the flooding also disabled the entire district’s computer and telephone networks.
More than 550 students in grades 6 through 8 had to be relocated to other schools in the district while everything inside the building was demolished and replaced. “It was devastating to the students, teachers, and entire staff,” said Charles Smargiassi, principal of Danville Middle School. “Everyone wondered if the school would ever recover.”
Danville Middle School was starting from scratch. New flooring had to be installed throughout the first floor of the building. The gymnasium, the auditorium, and some classrooms and offices had to be gutted. The school lockers, contaminated with bacteria from the sewage treatment plant adjacent to the school, had to be ripped out and replaced.
While it was a devastating situation, it did create an opportunity for the district to construct a new building that was not only virtually flood-proof but also allowed for an update to newer technology like Internet capabilities and new air conditioning in the auditorium.
“We were basically going to build a brand new school, one that would be prepared in case of another flood. We had the opportunity to retrofit our building with materials that would endure such a disaster should there ever be another flood like the one in September 2011,” Smargiassi said.
Durability and low maintenance were of the utmost importance when selecting new building materials for the school. These two features played into the selection of Scranton Products’ Duralife Lockers for the corridors and the gymnasium locker rooms. Duralife Lockers, made from premium, American-made solid HDPE, are impact resistant, resist bacteria, and easy to keep clean.
“Lockers are a big part of a student’s life when they’re in school. They like to personalize their lockers with pictures, drawings, stickers, and other items,” Smargiassi said. “School athletes can also be a little rough on their lockers. We had an opportunity to replace our worn metal lockers with about 840 new high-quality lockers that were tough and resistant to the normal day-to-day abuse of the students.”
“We had a lot of maintenance issues with the metal lockers, so we were anxious to explore some different options,” said Rick Engle, director of maintenance for Danville School District. “Permanent markers and tape were nearly impossible to remove. We either had to paint the lockers or use a solvent-based cleaner, which removed the paint entirely or dulled the surface.”
Lockers That Are Safe for Schools
HDPE is naturally resistant to bacteria, odors, mold, and mildew, and the non-porous surface is easy to clean. Graffiti wipes off easily with most non-abrasive cleaners, and stickers and contact paper are easily removed. The lockers can also be power washed and steam cleaned without the worry of rust. “And because they’re plastic, the school won’t have to remove or replace damaged, rusted, or corroded parts,” Engle added.
Duralife Lockers are also the only line of solid HDPE school lockers that are fully fire rated (compliant with NFPA 286) as well as being GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certified for improved indoor air quality.
The Duralife Lockers installed in the corridors and the gymnasium locker rooms have been a hit with the students. “They are wider than the metal lockers, so they can now store their backpacks. And since they chose their school color of purple for the lockers, they may have a sense of ownership and pride,” Smargiassi said. “Plus, since the students were put out of their school for two years, they might be a bit more careful with the upkeep of their lockers.”
Nearly two years after the start of the project, students and faculty returned to their school for the start of the 2013-2014 school year. The school has brand new technology, air conditioning throughout, fresh paint everywhere, a brand new auditorium, new lockers and, most importantly, the building is flood-proof.
“Everything inside the school is either plastic or cement. We have special flood vents and all of the electric outlets are at least 4 feet off the ground,” Smargiassi said. “All surfaces, floors, and walls and lockers can all be easily cleaned, so if we do have a flood again in the future, this building will come back in a lot less time.”