Principal Kerry Sachetta never doubted that school would start on time. But, he anticipated makeshift conditions at best. “I thought we would have rickety chairs and 20-year-old text books.” Instead, 1,100 juniors and seniors now attend class in a smartly renovated former department store at a local shopping mall. Freshmen and sophomores, meanwhile, are using an early 20th century school building that previously housed teacher development programs.
To direct the transformation of the 96,000-square-foot space from big-box retail to interim campus, administrators called in national architecture and engineering firm DLR Group and Joplin-based architect Corner Greer & Associates. Before the tornado, the district had been reviewing the team’s submittal for a proposed middle school. “We needed manpower and design expertise fast,” explains Angie Besendorfer, assistant superintendent.