Summer construction: New colors, better acoustics and a space for non-profits at school

By Lucy Fried, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Artwork lines the basement hallway, red accents paint the pipes, and new offices mean more teachers now have space of their own. Summer at Shalhevet meant this construction and more, beginning just as classes ended.

“Even during finals, we had already started in places that we wouldn’t be making noise, like the basement,” said Chief Operating Officer Ms. Sarah Emerson. “All over the school, we’re looking to brighten and to beautify.”

Not all the changes were cosmetic — the third-floor large Beit Midrash, known for constant echoes, had acoustic paneling installed to improve acoustics. But red or blue accents now color pillars, pipes and some walls in many rooms, and many new offices have been built.

Tech director Nick Parsons has a newly built office in what was a wide second-floor hallway, and the basement has a new office suite, which houses a program for Jewish nonprofit organizations including the LaHav curriculum.

In a development that Ms. Emerson described as the most significant, acoustical paneling was installed on the ceiling and some walls in Room 305 — the large Beit Midrash — along with new carpeting on the floor.

Junior Maya Tochner had classes last year and the year before.

“When someone in front of you would talk, you couldn’t hear anybody in front of them, and it was really hard to hear people,” Maya said. “But now it’s noticeably quieter, not in people’s voices, but you don’t hear echoes and you don’t hear every time a pencil drops on the floor.”

Ms. Emerson said the room — which is the largest meeting space in the building except for the gym — would now be better for large groups.

“It’s not something that you necessarily notice when you walk in, but it definitely has improved the quality of sound,” Ms. Emerson said.

In the basement, a suite made up of three offices and a conference room is housing a new “co-working” program being run by former Hebrew teacher Ms. Shoshana Robinson. The program hopes to integrate Jewish nonprofit organizations into student culture by offering them office space at school.

In addition to Ms. Robinson, Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi David Stein has his office there for the LaHav curriculum, which was created at Shalhevet and is now in use around the world.

Also there is an organization called Yesh Tikvah, co-founded by Mrs. Gila Block, wife of Assistant Principal Rabbi David Block, who has the suite’s third office. According to its website, Yesh Tikvah’s goals are to help couples struggling with infertility and to raise awareness of the problem throughout the Jewish community.

“We now have a space for these nonprofit organizations that align with Shalhevet’s mission and values to work and grow,” Ms. Emerson said. “It’s not just for the benefit of the nonprofits, but also for our students to hopefully get involved with these nonprofits and hopefully learn what it takes to develop a Jewish nonprofit.”

Yoetzet Halacha Atara Segal, who also serves as Israel Guidance director, and Hebrew language chair Mrs. Mickey Rabinov are sharing the office where Mr. Weslow’s office used to be in the second-floor administrative suite.

Rabbi Block is now next door, whereMs. Aviva Walls used last year. Ms. Walls now works from the third floor college counseling office along with new college counselor and SAS Psychology teacher Mr. Eli Shavalian.

Also on the third floor, Room 307, which was previously a small classroom, has been divided into two offices: one for SAC Director and Judaic Studies teacher Ms. Ilana Wilner and one for Dean of Student Life Dr. Jonny Ravanshenas, who worked in a first floor office last year.

In Dr. Ravanshenas’ old office now is new Development Director Ms. Cheryl Wolf.