“The Hangar” is an affectionate term given by students for their temporary home at Owens Community College’s Development and Training building on Tracy Road in Northwood.
Students say the nickname fits because, like an airplane in storage, the 450 student-Flyers were moved into temporary storage until their new building is finished.
Owens leased the building to Lake after an EF4 tornado destroyed their high school on June 5, 2010, and classes have been there the past two years. May 22 of this year will be the last day for students at “The Hangar.”
The district pays Owens $13,750 a month in rent, which is equal to $3 a square foot. Treasurer Jeff Carpenter told The Press that other facilities might have charged $8 to $12 per square foot. Carpenter said the costs associated with the temporary high school are all covered under the district’s insurance policies.
|Hannah Cox, Lauren Reed and Benjamin
Swartz at The Hangar. (Grosjean)
The center includes 10 classrooms, three computer laboratories, 34 offices, two reception areas, and 12 learning laboratories. The building’s classrooms and labs are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, but it was a tight fit for classes and resources had to be shared.
According to Principal Lee Herman, the district placed temporary walls inside the building to create enough classrooms to house the 450 students in grades 9-12. As a result, hallways became narrower and an “odd traffic pattern” took some getting used to.
“It’s definitely not a traditional school building, but it’s served its purpose,” Herman said. “It’s a building with classroom space, obviously, because Owens used it, and the classrooms themselves are functional. However, in terms of what we are used to in a school — there is no gym, there is no real large space where we can have meetings or assemblies or anything like that to use.”
Logistics concerning transportation and food service had to be worked out. Herman said the high school was unable to provide hot food to students until the required licensing was in place. Students at the high school were not able to get hot food until that was in place.
“Prior to this, the food for the schools was prepared in the high school cafeteria,” Herman said. “Now the food is prepared at St. Jerome Catholic Parish and has to be transported to all of the schools.
“One of the only large spaces we have we use as the cafeteria, and it’s tight but we fit everybody in. (The center) has only got one restroom — now it’s a large restroom and it’s got lots of space. Thankfully, the building itself is not too big so it’s not too problematic for them to get to the restroom and back,” Herman continued.
“While it has had its challenges, it really has been a blessing, and I say that because we’re able to get everybody in. All of our students can go here. We’re able to keep everybody all together, and I think that was really important to our kids after the tornado, that they could all come back as a school and be together as a group.”
Senior Hannah Cox said, “We’re just lucky that we got to come here so we can all stay together. They could have split us up, but we’re lucky they didn’t. I think we all adjusted well. We all kind of came together when we had to come here. I know it was kind of hard at first, but we got used to it.”
Teachers had to make adjustments during their time at “The Hangar,” too.
“All of our labs have been small because we have only one sink and no gas, so we’re pretty limited,” chemistry teacher Tyler Bates said. “We had to do a lot more ‘thought labs.’ The kids have been great, though. The kids have adjusted well and it’s just good to be together, and they’re just happy to be together.”
English teacher Tom Jackson said, “The biggest challenge was I was in a room that was a really large lab-kind of room, and at some point they made it into three different rooms, and all the light switches are in one room — (the light switch) wasn’t in my room, and the thermostats that would control all three rooms, basically, were all in one room. So the temperature changes and the light changes and everything else got to be a little challenging at times. Students have been very patient. We have good kids here.”
Junior Ben Swartz noted, sarcastically, that it has been easier to concentrate in class “because you don’t have any windows to look out and distract you.” His classmate, Lauren Reed, notes that there are plenty of garage doors because the “The Hangar” was originally built for industrial use.
School staff also had to adjust. Herman now travels between both the high school and middle school daily. Teachers, guidance counselors, and others who had been shared between the schools also travel between them.
As for transportation, Herman said both middle school and high school students are spending more time on busses.
Cox, Reed, and Swartz, all multi-sport athletes, say one of the hardest issues was driving elsewhere for practice and games. The basketball team practiced at Toledo Public School’s East Broadway Middle School and played games at Owens College’s 94-foot court at the Student Health and Activities Center.
“Soccer was kind of the same because we still got to practice and play on the old field, but basketball was a little bit different because at East Broadway their gym was small and it was really dark in there,” Cox said.
“I really liked Owens’ court. I obviously liked our old school better, but Owens court was really nice. I think it helped us because we were used to the (longer) court, and then when other teams came and played on it, they weren’t used to it so they got tired a lot quicker, so it was to our advantage.”