Returning from Vacation, Teachers Get Makeover Surprise
A parent group spent the holiday vacation break redecorating the staff lounge at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School.
Teachers and staff at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School were met with a surprise when they returned from the holiday break on Monday - an enthusiastic group of grateful parents and students redecorated the staff lounge.
An e-mail requesting volunteers and donations went out prior to vacation with a strict message to keep it a secret from the teachers and staff - other than Principal Matt Fox, who approved the project and schools Director of Facilities Rick Shruhan and the custodial staff , who were all instrumental in getting the job done.
The teacher's lounge hadn't been touched in years - possibly since the school was built in 1962 - noted the rallying e-mail.
Gail Lake, an art teacher at the high school and the teacher representative who was consulted on all of the color choices to make sure they were in keeping with how the room was used, said she was delighted to see the project happened.
"I've been looking at that room for 20 years," said Lake.
The goal was to raise the money separately from the Friends of Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School contributions, which are held for purchases and activities to help pay for educational experiences.
"The response was overwhelming; this all came together in about six weeks, from getting Matt's permission to the completion," said Charlotte Lidrbauch, one of the project leaders. "People were so happy to do something to honor the teachers and staff at the high school; the enthusiasm was remarkable."
About 80 families donated amounts ranging from $10 to over $100, according to organizers, who didn't tally en exact value of the work if contractors were paid to do all the work.
"It's great thank you for their vote this year for no increase in the contract; just to let them know how much we appreciate them," said Lidrbauch.
Lisa Kawski, a parent and owner of lmk interiors, ltd. in Wenham, volunteered her design services as well as used her designer discounts in purchasing materials, when possible. The lamps were donated by Sheila Whalen of Timeless Interiors. Additional teams of parents and students managed the painting and installation of new carpeting.
"The Monday snowstorm slowed them down, but they finished Friday," said Shruhan, who provided consistent support for the project that included opening the school for several hours on New Year's Eve day for delivery of the couches and helping with the set up.
"They created a homey atmosphere," said Lisa Heitz, school secretary. "It was a wonderful surprise."
In a thank you note, teachers said the holiday vacation improvements have improved morale, fostered collegiality and provided a welcoming space that is comfortable and professional.
"We are grateful and humbled by your generosity of money and time; You have left a legacy that will endure many years of lunches and faculty gatherings for the next generation of teachers at the Regional," Lake said in a thank you note on behalf of the staff. "Thank you for everything but most of all thank you for allowing us to educate your children every day."
Not every students and parent knew the work was happening and it was all done via e-mail in an effort to keep it a surprise for the staff, organizers said, and since it was all done on e-mail many people just may not have received an e-mail about.
Organizers are still accepting donations because they "are a little short."
"And there are a few more things we'd like to do, such as new hardware for the cabinets and maybe even a new Formica top and appliances," Lidrbauch said.
Donations can be mailed to Terry von Staats, 2 Gussett Road, Wenham, MA 01984.