On a sunny day in early May, D-E second grade students donned hard hats, safety goggles, and neon T-shirts for a tour of the new Hajjar STEM Center construction site. In honor of National Safety Week, Gilbane Building Company invited the students to see the progress on the building and facilitated a “tool box talk” session in the Lower School, prior to the on-site tour.
Representing Gilbane were Fred Ringler, New Jersey regional safety director; superintendent Mike Burns; and engineer Shane Phipps. Additionally, Jill Schiff, a representative of the ACCNJ (Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey), joined the tour, as did Cindy Stadulis, D-E’s former director of Business and Finance, who provided contextual information throughout the talk and the tour. Second grade teacher Jessica Rullo later commented, “Our social studies curriculum focuses on community, and the students have spent the year learning about the D-E community, different types of other communities, economics, volunteering and also map skills. The construction of the new Hajjar STEM Center touches upon all of these areas! It was a natural fit for the second graders to have this special and unique touring opportunity.”
To prepare for the trip, the students looked at well-known buildings, as well as the specifications and blueprints of the STEM Center. Questions from the students ranged from “What is the perimeter and area of the building?” and “Will there be real wood and glass in the building?” to “How many classrooms will there be?” and “Will they make robots in the new building?” The students were amazed to learn that, in fact, there will be a robotics lab space and a 16-unit projection plasma screen. They were also thrilled to see the placement of the I-Beam that was signed by the entire D-E student body and teachers and staff, earlier this year.
Ringler summarized the enthusiasm expressed by all the adults involved in the special day: “The D-E students asked us some extremely engaging questions. It was hard to believe that these students are in second grade!”