Room for learning

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Andalusia High School agriscience teacher Anthony Mikel said the school’s new annex building provides a wealth of opportunities for his students.

“There’s a lot of space in here,” Mikel said. “We can do a lot of projects at one time; everybody can be working on their own projects all in the same place. I can do welding in one corner, and woodworking and electricity in another corner, all in the same room.”

The building was under construction during the spring and summer, and was ready in time for the start of this school year. In addition to agriscience, the new facility also houses art classes, in-school suspension, and special needs students’ classrooms.

“It’s a wonderful facility,” Mikel said. “We’ve got a separate room where we can do some painting projects, and plenty of places to store our tools. We had a lot of this stuff before, but it’s arranged in a more convenient place and there’s a lot more room.”

For example, Mikel said last year his students had only a 1,200-square foot welding area, while the new building features a 2,500-square-foot welding area.

In addition, Mikel said the new building is loaded with up-to-date technology and safety features.

“In the case of an emergency, I can shut off all the power in the shop with just one push of a button,” he said. “Over the welding booths, we’ve got a ventilation system that sucks all the fumes out instantly. Everything is up to code. Some of the safety measures are a little expensive, but it’s worth the money.”

Tuesday, Mikel’s freshman agri-construction class was working on an electrical project. Throughout the year, the class also does projects for masonry, plumbing and roofing, among others.

Freshman Alex Evans, who wants to be an engineer, said he enjoys the classes and the new building.

“I really enjoy the work we do in these classes,” he said. “There’s always something to keep you busy, and every one works hard and works as a team.”

Mikel’s classes aren’t the only ones who get the benefit of the new facility and its amenities. Joni Brannon’s art class now has a much larger area where they can work on their creative projects.

“It’s been a blessing,” she said. “The kids now have a place to store their artwork when class is over. We’re going to eventually have a section of the room where we can work on pottery, and we’ve got a brand-new powerful kiln.

“I’d guess that not many schools in Alabama have a facility like this.”

Bullard-Cook of Montgomery constructed the $1.23 million building.