A new cafeteria was on the menu at Hamilton-Holmes Middle School as students enjoyed their first lunch in the new, larger facility Monday.
Students got a sneak peek at the cafeteria Feb. 22 as part of the wrap up of the school’s Kindness Week, according to principal Tina Rudd.
“They were all very excited to come back after the weekend and eat lunch in the new cafeteria,” Rudd said.
The cafeteria is part of a school renovation project that began last summer. The school got a new sixth-grade wing, clinic, art room and additional classrooms.
Still to be completed are a new School Board office, three new courtyards and a front entrance security vestibule, according to division Superintendent David White.
White and Ballou Justice Upton’s director of construction administrator Gordon Frantzich discussed the project at a Monday night board meeting, saying the project will be complete on June 19 due to delays with the rainy season.
All areas will be done by June, and roof improvements will be completed over the summer, according to White.
The original amount for the project was $10.8 million, which is expected to increase after the division signs a contract with a company for roofing improvements, according to White.
At approximately 6,640 square feet, the new space is larger than the old cafeteria, which will be converted into storage for facility management, according to Rudd.
The cafeteria features plenty of natural light from large windows on two walls, two new cafeteria lines, new tables, sound panels and a stage for school and community use.
Two cafeteria lines for students buying lunch are on the right side of the cafeteria, and cafeteria workers got an upgraded work and kitchen space as part of the project.
The school has three lunches during the day and seats approximately 175 students at each one — and there is room for more tables, according to Rudd.
“The old tables in the old cafeteria were pull-out chairs, and students would accidentally bump into each other,” Rudd said. “They would also pull up more chairs when we weren’t looking, for more than the eight people limit. The new tables have eight connected seats and three tables have seven with a space for wheelchair accessibility.”
Sherri Harris, director of food service for the schools, said she thinks the new cafeteria is very inviting.
“It’s great for our students, faculty and community,” Harris said. “Some of the cafeteria workers came on Saturday, on their own time, to get things ready for today and were very excited.”
Sixth graders walking into the first lunch of the day at 11:40 a.m. on Monday looked around the new cafeteria and checked out the new table set up.
After all the students were seated, Rudd used a microphone to ask whether they liked their new cafeteria; she was greeted with an chorus of “yes” and thumbs ups.
Sixth grader Mills Hooker said she likes the new set up and extra space.
Fellow sixth grader Carter Ingram said he likes the natural lighting and that it seems quieter.
“There’s more room at the tables for us to have space,” Carter said.
Mackenzie Mielke, also in sixth grade, added she likes that there is more room to walk around and not accidentally bump into anymore.
White said the new cafeteria is an asset to division and the community.
“The new Hamilton-Holmes Middle School cafeteria space allows for an improved dining experience for our students and provide an opportunity for the division to host expanded school sponsored and community based programs,” White said.
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ashleyrluck on Twitter