There were some noticeable changes for students and parents when the HMS Richards staff opened their doors on the first day of school this month. Despite the fact that it had been summer vacation, if you drove by campus in Loveland, you may have noticed that the HMS parking lot was rarely empty. The elementary school staff spent countless hours this summer meeting with students and families, as well as cleaning up and remodeling several areas of the school.

Principal Paul Bragaw made it a goal this summer to meet with each student’s family to get to know them better, find out their desires for their children’s education, and pray with them. “I wanted to do this because it’s important to get a better understanding of who our students and families are by seeing another part of their lives,” Bragaw commented.

While Bragaw says he has been able to meet with just over half the families this summer, he plans to continue during the fall semester and revisit with families as often as possible. “Communication is everything,” Bragaw explained. “We’ve been able to realize the needs and desires of families and individual students, and this has inspired me to work harder to make a difference for these kids and their parents by making our school better.”

With enrollment numbers continuing to be strong this year having enough space in the building remains an issue. All of the teachers spent time during the month of June sorting through bookshelves and closets, getting rid of any unnecessary items. The large storage closet at the end of the hall was completely emptied and turned into a much-needed teacher workroom.

“We actually cleaned out every square inch of the entire building,” Bragaw said. “There are some storage areas that many people don’t know about where 40-50 years’ worth of stuff has been piling up. We have gone through it all, either throwing it away, selling it at the yard sale, or organizing it to make better use of space.”

One of the biggest changes that took place was the renovation of the seventh and eighth-grade classrooms. Last school year, a temporary partition was installed upstairs to provide an additional classroom for kindergarten in what was formerly the principal’s office and a storage area. Before leaving this summer, Davin Hammond, with the help of Kim Melanbacher and Ken Albertsen, was able to complete a permanent wall to separate the two classrooms.

Carey Jordan, the incoming seventh and eighth-grade teacher, along with her family and several volunteers, then spent weeks stripping and even re-plastering the old walls, painting, replacing ceiling tiles, purchasing new bookshelves and tables, and overall providing a complete face-lift for the classroom.

“It was really important to me to have a classroom environment that was well-organized and conducive to learning,” Jordan explained. “I enjoyed changing the space and making it my own. It’s been a really great start to the year, the students have responded well to the new classroom environment. It’s paid off; having a well-organized space has helped the students learn our procedures and we have been able to get started into real learning.”

School is now underway, and the halls and classrooms are filled with the happy chatter of children who are warmly welcomed by the HMS teachers who care so deeply about them and providing a healthy and Christ-centered learning environment. Please pray for our church’s school as we start the new school year.

–By Jill Harlow, photo by Carey Jordan