TPHS opens new classroom wing and cafeteria

The Innovation Building, a new classroom wing for Career Technical Education courses, opened at the start of the 2022-2023 school year after being under construction since April 2021.

The Innovation Building includes rooms 701-706 located next to the Falcon Eatery. The new rooms include the Makerspace, which has engineering stations and machinery, the Computer-aided Design Lab, which has computers for programming and designing, and the computer science room, which has computers for programming.

“The new engineering lab is really going to help our engineering CTE pathway,” TPHS Principal Rob Coppo said. “I think it is critical to give students a chance to see what it’s like to experience project based learning [and] get some real-world experience with modern tools.”

In addition to more classroom space, the Innovation Building provides students in CTE classes centralized resources for project-based learning, as the proximity of the rooms allows classes to use multiple spaces, according to Coppo. In Engineering classes, the CAD lab is used for pre-production planning while the workspaces and machines in the Makerspace are used for production. It also fosters greater collaboration between CTE teachers, since their classes were previously held in rooms scattered around campus, Coppo said.

“I absolutely think it was worth the wait and the money, especially because … it’s so important to have that focus on STEM at our school,” Bri Cathcart (10), a Computer Progamming student, said.

Along with centralizing CTE classes, the facility modernizations added 38 new computers for the CAD
lab and 40 computers for the computer science rooms.

“The new computers are working very nicely [and] running the programs pretty smoothly,” drafting student Nicolette Caci (11) said.

Other renovations include a new dust collection system, three televisions for watching demonstrations and new speakers in the Wood Tech classroom. The Auto Technology room was upgraded with new lighting and audio-visual systems along with new automotive equipment.

“As colleges and careers are looking more specifically at people being trained in hands-on skills … [the Innovation Building] has a huge benefit,” Eric Neubauer, the chair of the CTE department and Auto Tech teacher, said.

FEASTING FALCONS: A student picks up lunch from the Falcon Eatery. Since opening in August, the new nutrition facility has provided students with free meals during lunch and before school.

The Falcon Eatery opened to students for the 2022-2023 school year after more than a year of construction, replacing the old nutrition kiosks and providing students with indoor eating space and free breakfast and lunch. The Eatery sits adjacent to the newly modernized Innovation Building. The construction and renovation of both buildings began in April 2021 and cost $11.64 million in total, according to the district Executive Director of Planning Services, John Addleman. All funds are from Prop. AA, a bond measure passed by district voters in 2012. That money was well spent, according to some students.

“I enjoy the social aspect of the Eatery,” Erik Shamsedeen (11) said. “You can come here and sit at the tables. It’s like a college campus.”

The Falcon Eatery has new food display cases, lunch tables, a kitchen with four ovens and new registers.

“[The Eatery has] better kitchens, better registers and overall nicer and more pleasant facilities,” said Emma Schreuder-Welte (10), a student lunch worker who also worked in the nutrition kiosks briefly at the end of last year.

As one of four student lunch workers, Schreuder-Welte is paid to help other Nutrition Servies employees serve lunch to students. The Falcon Eatery’s purpose is to make the food serving system more efficient for both workers and students, according to TPHS Nutrition Services Supervisor, Rose Hernandez. Instead of having one kitchen on campus with two additional kiosks spread across the school, the kitchen and cafeteria are in one building, which centralizes food services for both students and nutrition staff.

“It’s easier for the kitchen staff to have [all of the facilities] in the same place so that they don’t have to deal with the transportation [of the food] or running out of something but not being near the kitchen,” Schreuder-Welte said.

As in previous campus eateries, the Falcon Eatery serves pizza and hummus packs along with two other
main entree options that change daily. The Falcon Eatery has adopted a new register system that takes student ID numbers instead of a personalized lunch code. This system processes more quickly and is easier for student workers to use, according to Hernandez. Despite this improvement, the lines to get food are still long, according to some students who get school lunch regularly.

“The lunch lines are longer because they aren’t split between all the nutrition systems,” Shamsedeen said. “The view when you come out of the classroom and look at the lines is like being at Costco or at Universal [Studios] waiting for one of the big rides.”

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