Common no more

During the 2015 school year, students packed the Wood Commons cafeteria, struggling to get into line to pay for their food. With trays filled with french fries and burgers, athletes and students alike struggled to get the nutrition they needed for practices and energy to carry on throughout the rest of their school day.

However, in the 2016 school year, the new renovations and investments into the West Commons hope to remedy these previous issues. Changes including the removal of vending machines, implementation of healthier food options and more open space are attempts to promote a cleaner diet and make the serving lines more effective and faster for students to get their food.

Students are positively responding to this new change and food selection as shown by an increase in food sales. “It’s healthier and cheaper, so more kids are in lines,” said Eliza Sullivan ’17. Sullivan buys lunch at school and enjoys the new salads served at the new sushi and salad bar.

According to Sean Carney, assistant superintendent of business services, on average, Stevenson spends about five percent of its budget on general renovations.

In order to determine what gets renovated, the school board and Carney must identify areas of concern in order to improve upon student learning and success. The overall process takes approximately 18 months, including planning and construction.

“The Wood Commons cafeteria line was the original cafeteria designed in 1970 so it needed to be physically updated,” said Rick Dewar, the architect and project principle behind the new Stevenson renovations at Wight and Company.

The planning of the new cafeteria began in early February of 2015 and construction began during the summer of 2016 by Wight and Co. The initial budget projected for the overall school building renovations ranged from half-a-million to a million dollars. In the end, the final cost was just over half-a-million dollars—way under budget.

Dewar hopes that the investment in this new project will improve the delivery system of food so students can get food faster and with healthier options.

“Overall, it will encourage students to eat more on campus and give students more time to focus on student activities,” Dewar said.

In addition, the updates provide more space for students, which is necessary for Stevenson’s growing student population. Although it’s too early to say how the new renovations will impact its students in the long-term, the new cafeteria is receiving a variety of reactions and responses from the student population and the community.  

“I think it will be worth it in the future when the classes get bigger but for right now we will have to wait and see,” Sullivan said. “It brings a sense of pride because we have all these nice things and I think we are all grateful for that.”