January 4, 2021

Construction at John F. Hodge High School is quickly approaching completion. It is incredibly exciting to see the old high school building and new atrium area progressing in tangible ways almost every day. Over the holiday break, contractors and district staff accomplished many important projects and we are starting to realistically visualize the full completion of the high school classrooms, hallways, and restrooms. Painting, plumbing, along with testing and balancing of the mechanical systems is also being completed. This week, Dake Wells Architecture and Branco will meet to discuss plans for further finishing touches to the projects and necessary cleaning prior to occupancy. Although we have been frustrated throughout the process with construction delays, progress is happening. We were hopeful to have everything completed before now, but I am pleased it appears the end of construction is near. We know how disruptive construction can be during the school year, and we appreciate your patience as we wrap up this exciting new project for our students and community. 

We fully anticipated being in the upstairs classrooms this week. However, we were notified last week about the fire alarm system not being able to be installed until more finishing touches are completed. Opening the building on our first day back would have been a great way to begin the Spring semester and a great way to ring in the new year. The contractors, custodial team, and technology department have done an outstanding job helping to prepare the classrooms for us. Unfortunately, these life safety issues prevented us from moving in, and our first priority is always the safety of the students and staff. Although the upstairs classrooms and hallways are ready for instructional purposes, we will not be able to occupy these spaces until the fire alarm system is approved. We are working closely with the City of St. James and the St. James Fire Department to make sure the new fire alarm system is fully and properly installed. Once the appropriate occupancy permits are approved, we will be able to immediately open these areas of the building for students and staff. 

Students and staff have done a phenomenal job co-existing with the construction environment. From the beginning, we knew the construction phasing process would be complicated with a renovation within an operational high school. Regardless of the complaints with delays, safety throughout the construction process has remained a priority. The careful planning of Branco and the subcontractors has kept our students, staff and construction workers safe. The exciting news is, we are in the final stages of construction and our first day in the renovated high school building is right around the corner. If you are interested in a tour prior to full completion, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am excited to share with you the great progress that has been made. #stjtigerpride