Week two brings improvements at LHS

Week two brings improvements at LHS

A sign outside of Lincoln High School directs students with parking permits to the left, while parents dropping their children off use a separate lane. In the background, School Resource Officer Michael Cavanaugh discusses the new traffic pattern with Lincoln Police Capt. Philip Gould. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – Conditions at Lincoln High School have improved since the first three days of school, when students and parents complained that ongoing construction was creating a bigger headache than expected during the transition back.

Exterior traffic issues, in particular, saw much improvement in the second week of school after staff worked with representatives for the busing company, Town Engineer Leslie Quish and members of the Lincoln Police Department to roll out a new traffic pattern for the start and end of the school day. Principal Kevin McNamara said the school also released a number of new student parking passes, which should bring down the number of vehicles parking along Old River Road to the baseball field.

Speaking at Monday’s School Committee meeting, McNamara said LHS had a “very good opening given all of the challenges we’ve had to work through,” and thanked students and teachers for their flexibility during this time. He said everyone’s teamwork to address the exterior traffic logjams led to all students being dropped off by 7:26 a.m. by day two, a significant improvement over the first day.

Inside, McNamara said some improvements have also been made to the internal flow of student passing traffic.

“We have implemented one-way directions in various areas to help with the traffic flow, and it has improved in many respects, however the flow in the building is still not optimal,” he said.

After watching the situation unfold during the first few days of school, McNamara said some changes were made to the ramp system built to accommodate traffic during construction, which he said has been the biggest issue so far. Last Thursday, he asked the construction team of Colliers International, Gilbane Inc. and SMMA Architects to assess the situation and come up with a better solution.

“We like to have a positive attitude but need to be up front with what we can and can’t put up with,” McNamara said.

School Committee Vice Chairman Joseph Goho, who has a child at the high school, said, “Mr. McNamara and the high school administration (have) done everything feasibly possible on their end to mitigate the situation and have reached out to Colliers for a solution. We are hopeful that this will alleviate the problem.”

Addressing a separate issue, Colliers and SMMA are hoping to install an acoustical liner to a divider in the school’s auditorium, separating the stage from the gallery. The divider was installed to accommodate the school band’s rehearsals during construction, however there were concerns about the sound disturbing nearby classes.

“As issues do arise we have a great team addressing these issues,” School Committee member Julie Zito said. “We hope it will continue going smoothly, or smoother.”

McNamara said he would continue to use the Skyward app to email updates to parents, and encouraged those with concerns to attend Building Committee meetings to offer feedback. The next committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for next Thursday, Sept. 20.

Goho said there are also many positives to focus on at the start of this school year, such as the extremely well attended ice cream socials, Lincoln Middle School open house and Lion’s Roar freshmen orientation.

“Mr. McNamara and his staff are working very hard,” Goho said. “It’s important not to understate the positive message that needs to be shared with kids.”

McNamara has been quite literally sharing positive messages with students through a “positive sign Thursday” campaign, inspired by NASSP Digital Principal of the Year Brian McCann, from Case High School in Swansea, Mass. McNamara said he decided to incorporate the campaign at LHS after doing a smaller version during last January’s Kindness Week.

In photos posted on the school’s social media pages, McNamara poses with students holding uplifting signs such as “you’re stronger than you think.”

“I thought it would be a great way to connect with students,” McNamara said.

McNamara said the LHS community is “tremendously excited about the prospect of this renovation,” adding that everyone returned to school with a positive attitude and excitement. His message to freshmen has been that they will bear the fruit of the renovation, while he promises seniors that the administration will work hard to ensure their final year is special.

“We’ll work to ensure that your life is not impacted to any adverse degree,” he said. “We’re going to do some things to recognize that you’re going through this.”