Stillwater News Press

January 23, 2013

Will Rogers Elementary School celebrates ‘topping off’

By Mark Rountree
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Even though construction of a new school is taking place, in some places, only a few feet from the existing school, classroom disruption and school safety has not been an issue at Will Rogers Elementary School.

“The noise, if anything, is only minimal,” Will Rogers Principal Cherron Ukpaka said. “And safety of the students has not been a problem at all. They don’t go out there (to the construction site).”

Staff parking has had to be adjusted and students have a restricted space (the former west drive through area) on which to play during recess, but Ukpaka said the inconvenience now will be worth it when the new school is completed.

“It’s going to be wonderful, and it’s only going to be a short time (until construction is completed),” Ukpaka said.

Approximately 500 students from Will Rogers jammed into a small school courtyard Wednesday to witness iron workers place a 27-foot, 300-pound steel beam on the top of the new building during a “topping off” ceremony.

Students had autographed the red beam prior to the event and watched as it was hoisted by a large crane into position.

The beam was adorned with an American and Oklahoma state flag. A Christmas tree, attached to the middle of the beam, was decorated with ornaments created by the students.

“This is a very exciting time,” said Ukpaka.

Construction manager Gregg Bradshaw said construction of the new building is approximately 45 to 50 percent completed.

Ukpaka said she is confident the Sept. 6 completion date will be met.

Stillwater Public Schools grounds and operations director John Anders said construction of the new school is a complicated affair due to the curvature of the structure.

“This is a very difficult building to build,” he said.

Bradshaw said due to the shape of the building, the only way to accurately lay out the building was through the use of a global positioning system.

“We literally have an electronic surveying piece of equipment that can identify every spot in the building, where it’s supposed to be and the coordinates for each part of the building,” he said. “There’s no eye-balling anything. Everything is done with a computer.”

Bradshaw said the next big phase to the construction will be roofing, followed by interior construction of the composite wall panels. He said that work is scheduled to begin March 11.

“Then, it’s really going to start to look like something,” Bradshaw said.