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The Science and Technology Center: Mr. Uskali’s Perspective

The new Science and Technology Center at Newman is quickly rising and while all of this commotion takes place, everyone else goes about their daily life just the same. However, one upper school English teacher is observing this careful process day by day and literally cementing his place in Newman history. Since Mr. Uskali arrived at Newman a few years ago, he has seen a number of changes take place on the Newman campus and the new science building is the latest in a string of new improvements to the Newman facilities. I personally remember tracking the progress of the construction on the entrance to the football field my freshman year. Oftentimes after our typical Friday vocabulary quiz, Mr. Uskali would walk us over to discuss what had changed since the previous week. It seems this tradition has continued in a way, as Mr. Uskali and his freshman class decided it would be a neat idea to place a memento below the foundation of the new science building. They all wrote their names on a metal Newman button and tossed it below the rebar one Friday afternoon and Mr. Uskali managed to toss the button up-right in the sediment (an impressive feat if you ask me). The following Monday morning, Mr. Uskali came into school to find that the very spot where the button had landed on Friday was now covered with multiple feet of cement. Perhaps this button will never be seen again, but one thing is for sure: it will be a part of the Newman campus for many years to come.

When I spoke to Mr. Uskali about the new Science Building, he was able to provide valuable insight into how a building can transform an entire campus, a perspective which can only be attained from the front row seat his classroom provides. The Lemle building, where Mr. Uskali’s classroom is located, happens to be one of the older buildings on campus, as is the majority of the high school. However, the new building looks to do a much better job bridging the gap between old and new than previous attempts. This is something which was not gracefully achieved when the connecting the Saratoga and Lemle buildings. This area still stands out as a part of the Newman campus which is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Nevertheless, the new science building manages to make a smoother transition from the Lemle hallway and attempts to bring the upper school on par with the more modern feel which is found at almost all other parts of campus. Mr. Uskali especially loves the amount of natural light which the large classroom windows will provide. While the new science building stands out as a 21st century learning environment, it also displays many continuities with the existing parts of campus. Mr. Uskali related it to a 21st century version of the Valmont building. Additionally, the new science building also manages to not stand out as too boisterous in the neighborhood much in the same way Green Trees mimics the surrounding buildings in an effort to maintain the residential feel of the blocks surrounding the Newman campus.

 

Numerous times the new Science and Technology Center has been described as ‘transformational’ by many in the Newman community. Mr. Uskali is one of these individuals who sees how much more this building can truly be beyond the new classrooms they provide.

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