From Moore to Central: Short Distance, Big Journey for Scavo
The last day of classes before winter recess may have been December 19th but there was still a big piece of unfinished business for the staff at Scavo High School to attend to before they could fully shift into holiday mode.
When Scavo students return to school on Wednesday, January 7th they’ll not only have to remember to date their assignments 2015, they’ll also be taking classes at new digs on the 4th floor at Central Campus, remodeled to the tune of $7.7 million.
The move out of the old Moore Elementary building at 52nd & Douglas will allow $6.6 million worth of renovations to start in earnest there toward the new Moore Elementary that will be ready for students in time for the opening bell of the 2015-16 school year.
Yesterday the Moore building was empty except for scattered boxes in the hallways labeled with the room numbers they’re bound for downtown. And it was quiet except for occasional voices resonating from the main office. Instead of dodging traffic and trying to beat the deadline of the next period’s start time, strolling the corridors was a solitary, melancholy exercise.
The plaque on a wall that reads like a who’s who of DMPS luminaries from the past and the photograph above it have renewed relevance. The photograph is one of Dr. Fred Moore for whom the premises were named. Dr. Moore was the first head of the district’s Health Department. The plaque is dated 1949 and lists, among others, the names of then Superintendent Newell McCombs and his assistants, William Findley and Cress Hoyt, each of whom would later have schools named in their honors.
Today a different mood prevailed at the new place.
Before relocation to the Moore building five years ago to accommodate the Downtown School, Scavo had been at Central Campus on the ground floor. Its new home on the 4th has a new car smell to it. Here the boxes were opened up instead of taped shut. Polished floors squeaked beneath rubber-soled shoes. Even on a foggy morning the views afforded from windows looking east and south are inspiring. On a clear day you can see a long ways from this vantage point which is just what Scavo is all about. The space has a fresh start vibe to it that’s also right in step with the Scavo mission.
Office Manager Lisa Olson has been at Scavo for almost 20 years. There’s nobody better qualified to put this latest chapter in the school’s here-and-there history into context.
“People have a lot of misconceptions about Scavo,” Olson said. “This is a place where good things happen. Nothing bad happens here.”
The new headquarters are centrally located and better positioned to serve students from across the district. Scavo is a high school and then some that had been shoehorned into what was designed and built as an elementary facility. Now there will be customized spaces for on-site daycare and a community center that will offer healthcare services and include a food bank. Those types of features will be the stuff of future stories once the moving dust has had a chance to settle.
In the meantime it’s on to the finishing touches like knobs on the doors and uploading content onto the flat screen monitors that are mounted on the corridor walls.
Veteran Scavo registrar Wendy O’Keefe really appreciated the old place’s close proximity to her home. But as she settles into the polished office from which she’ll be shepherding special batches of graduates across the finish line she grins and allows that, “driving to work instead of walking isn’t going to be so bad.”
While the rest of the district will return to classes on January 5th, the staff at Scavo will have an extra two days on the back end of the recess to complete the big midyear transition. An open house for Scavo students and their families is scheduled for January 6th from 3:30-6:00 PM to be followed at a later date by a similar event to which the entire community will be invited. That will make for a good opportunity to dispel some of the misconceptions Olson spoke of, and to tell some of the other stories within the story of this remarkable school that may finally have found the home it deserves.