‘Excited to see it come to fruition’

Cranbury School celebrates the construction start of new main office and academic commons


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Fencing surrounds the outside of the Cranbury School main office entrance and former school library space as construction on a new main office and academic commons is underway.

The Cranbury School celebrated the new construction on the first phase of referendum projects in an official groundbreaking on April 9. Referendum projects for the school are set to improve school facilities for students, staff and the community.

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“It feels really good. I’m taking in every moment of it because it has taken us a lot to get here,” said Jennifer Diszler, principal and school superintendent of The Cranbury School. “I’m excited to be at the helm to see us through.”

She explained that they have an “exciting” couple of years ahead. On the academic side, the referendum project improvements open the opportunity for 21st century skills, and students’ ability to problem solve and be critical thinkers.

“I know there will be bumps … there always will be in construction,” Diszler acknowledged. “We are really good team and will make sure any decision we make is by the mission.

“Excited to see it come to fruition.”

Andrew Harrison/ Newspaper Media Group Fencing surrounds construction for new main office and academic commons.

Diszler was joined by members of the Cranbury Township Board of Education, Cranbury School administration, former Board President Karen Callahan and former Superintendent Susan Genco, Mayor Eman El-Badawi and Cranbury Township Committee members, the Chief of Police Michael Owens and police officers from the Cranbury Police Department, and Brooke Basista, director of the Cranbury Public Library.

“The board is super excited to get us started,” said Pramod Chivate, president of the Cranbury school board. “It has been a lot of planning and hiccups but I’m super excited more for our students and the community.

“When (referendum construction) is all said and done, it will bring new capabilities and new spaces for both our students and community.”

The construction on the main office and academic commons first took place during Spring Break while students and staff were not in the school building.

They were the first referendum projects because the area size for removing asbestos was smaller than the other projects and could be done within Spring Break, school officials said.

“Spring Break allowed us to do abatement in an area and this was the area,” Diszler said. “Some of the other projects are larger and will need a little more time, so summer a lot more will be happening, but we were able to get this one started.

“Fall (the construction for the new main office and academic commons) should be finished. We are looking at October for an end result and that is barring any unforeseen things.”

A satellite main office has been established at the Cranbury School referred to as “Main Office Jr.” by school administration. The entrance to the satellite main office is right before the sidewalk pathway section headed for people’s entrance to the gym.

The school is able to still do business as usual even with the satellite main office and is still using its available offices in the old main office to help with staff.

In and out visitors to the school can only enter the building through the satellite office. As construction continues for the new main office and academic commons inside the school building, there is a wall that protects from the construction, making the hallway narrower to walk through

“But [it] has not been an intrusion at all to our kids,” Diszler said. “Families have been great. We developed a new arrival and dismissal, a new traffic pattern, and families have been patient. It has been running extremely smooth.”

A satellite library was established in a school classroom by the school in preparation for what was hoped to be the timeframe for when construction would begin for the new main office and academic commons this past summer and early fall in 2023.

Andrew Harrison/ Newspaper Media Group Area where academic commons will be constructed.

The space that used to house the school library is being turned into the area for the academic commons. The academic commons will feature flexible makerspace areas and the hope by the administration is to be able to fit a class or two classes within the space.

In addition to the satellite library the Cranbury School also partnered with the Cranbury Public Library, so the students have been able to go to the public library to do book exchanges.

The school library will stay in the classroom until the academic commons’ construction is complete and once complete bookshelves would be around the commons.

“We are building flexible spaces because we don’t know what we will be teaching our kids 10 years from now,” Chivate said, adding the biggest thing he is looking forward to is having spaces where “we can teach anything or everything for the future.”

Andrew Harrison/ Newspaper Media Group

Mayor Eman El-Badawi shared how she believes the school is why people move to Cranbury.

“I want to honor the fact that this was a vision started formally three years ago, but many more years before that,” she said. “(This vision) has gone through its iterations, but the goal has always been the same … to create an atmosphere and a space for children that honors their education growth and continues to allow this town to call this Cranbury School its absolute gem.”

The school plans to revamp the construction updates page on the school website to include an up-to-date schedule, communications, and information on the construction projects.

The page already shows the updated renderings and plans on the academic commons, kitchen, cafeteria and courtyard, performing arts center, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) lab and business administrator spaces.

Andrew Harrison/ Newspaper Media Group Jennifer Diszler (right), Cranbury School principal and school district superintendent, joined by Cranbury Township Board of Education members on April 9.

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