by Gabriela Pertab and Alyssa Sankar
Richmond Hill High School has been around since 1899, and as well as Principal Ganesh has preserved the school's history, he has acknowledged the need for renovations to fit the more modern day learning initiatives. With this vision in mind during the upcoming years, he intends to improve the school programs and facilities to expand student project based learning. Students and faculty can expect several renovations. While some of these updates can be expected within the next couple of years, others are being planned for further down the road.
Equipment Updates (ETA summer 2023)
The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT), located in room 222, is set to receive some upgrades. To address the outdated computers in the lab, Queens Borough President Mr. Donovan Richards helped the school secure funding not only to replace the computers with newer models but also to refurbish the broadcast studio including the floor tiles in room 224. Mr. McCormack, head of AOHT, expects this to aid the students in “learn[ing] how to film and edit videos.”
Pool Upgrade (ETA summer 2023)
The pool, located in the basement, is expecting a modern upgrade according to Principal Ganesh. The pool is currently drained awaiting a new coat of paint. The locker rooms are also under construction to be expanded so it can be used “for both during the day and after school activities.” Captain of the boys swim team, senior Joy Sinisterra, explained that during the swim season the team “struggled with the condition of the pool water and locker rooms” while having to go to John Adams High School for their swim meets. These renovations for the pool will allow the students “less waiting time and more practice time” and serve to “support the team.”
Hydroponics Lab (ETA September 2023)
A hydroponics lab, a controlled space for plant growth, is currently under construction in room 204 and is expected to be completed over the summer. In this elective students will have the opportunity to observe plant growth. One of the primary teachers, Ms. Sultan explains that as part of the Project Based Learning (PBL) this will “teach students more about agriculture but in a water based tank.” The next crop is also expected to include flowers.
Junior Noor Shabaik, a student in the Criminology and Forensics Academy, explained that “the tanks [they] currently have are very small so there is a limit to what [they] can do and a lot of plants died because the tanks were not protected enough.” With this new installment they “can have a bigger crop and more plants.” There are different kinds of tank systems because all the plants are different so “this upgrade will be very helpful.” Students can currently see the progress of the room on the second floor.
Boiler Upgrade (currently in progress)
Students and staff alike at Richmond Hill have felt the fluctuating temperature at the school. The boilers at Richmond Hill High School are antiquated, therefore affecting the temperature regulation of the school building. During the upcoming summer, these amenities will be renovated to enhance the calefaction system (the heating system). Freshman Josiah Derrico, says that a stable temperature would benefit students by making them feel “energized” and “comfortable” to do their work.
Health Sciences Academy (currently in progress)
Over the past few months, medical equipment has been slowly integrated in room 316, supporting the expansion of student learning in the Health Sciences department led by Mr. Zazzarino. Mannequins, blood pressure pumps, medical chairs, along with other medical equipment have been included to convert the room into a pseudo medical office and are available for students in this pathway. Principal Ganesh wants student learning to “be put into practice in the same setting.” Sophomore Ridwana Rodela, a student in the Health Sciences Academy, is excited that learning how to use those devices “is preparing her for the future” and in her pursuit of a health career.
Innovations Lab (TBD)
The projects aren’t just limited to the academies. Principal Ganesh has plans to renovate part of the library into an innovation's lab, an interactive space where students can explore new ideas. "It's really meant to support the project based learning initiative,” Principal Ganesh said. One of the unique features of this project includes “writ[ing] on the walls” similar to spaces used by Google and Apple. Ms. Marchant, the school librarian who will also oversee the use of the space, feels “confident and excited” about supporting “students' creativity” with this new project.
Water fountains (ETA over next three years)
The water fountains have been an ongoing problem for both students and faculty. They have expressed their frustration of having only one purified water fountain. Junior Felipe Gutierrez uses the first floor water fountain despite the conveniences of closer fountains because he “feels that the water is cleaner” and is “the only one that can fill his water bottle.” Faculty and students that are positioned on the fourth and third floor must go to the first floor and basement to refill their water bottle. Therefore, over the next three years there will be a plan to install a purified water fountain on each floor, each year.
Mr. Ganesh wants to support our students in their search for post secondary education. Driven by the goal to assist them in “fulfilling post secondary success, not only for students going into college but also for career connected learning.” What ultimately drives these projects is “how the facilities can support these programs” aimed at achieving student’s academic success and giving the students real world exposure.