Jul 30, 2014

One year after remodel, Sharon Middle School reflects on sound investment

One year after remodel, Sharon Middle School reflects on sound investment

It’s been a little more than a year since Sharon Middle School completed its massive construction project. The building now sports an entirely new wing, and the older structure has been completely remodeled. 

Principal Kevin O’Rourke said his staff and students love the revamped building – and one upgrade in particular stands out above the rest. 

“We made the very wise decision to hardwire every classroom for sound,” O’Rourke said.

Each classroom has speaker systems from Lightspeed Technologies mounted into the ceiling. Teachers wear a small microphone around their neck, and the speakers project their voice evenly throughout the classroom.

“If they turn to write something on the board, they can continue to speak and their voice is loud and clear,” he said. 

For years, Sharon Middle School had been using REDCAT portable speakers, also from Lightspeed, to help students with hearing loss. 

“We found that teachers were using them extensively whether they had students in their class with hearing loss or not,” said O’Rourke.

So when it was time to start drawing up plans for their remodel, the entire design team agreed that incorporating sound systems into the design of the building was a no-brainer, “like putting in window shades or electrical outlets. It’s part of the 21st-century classroom,” O’Rourke said.  

The sound systems easily connect with other technology in the classrooms as well, from projectors and laptops to a student’s cochlear implant.

“It’s a simple tool, but it makes communication much more accessible,” said O’Rourke. “The kids will actually remind the teacher if they forgot to turn the system on.”

The remodel has been so successful that other school districts are now coming to O’Rourke for guidance before starting their own building projects. 

“When you finish a building project, you always look back and think, ‘Could I have done this differently?’ But the sound systems are used every day and worth the investment,” he said. “It’s an outstanding school.”

Don’t miss updates from Patch!