Monumental changes took place in 2020. In a few short weeks beginning in January, half of Union’s Tuttle Stadium was leveled. By November, the stadium’s new profile, etched in steel, gave us a taste of great things to come.
Here are the projects that were completed in 2020 (Year 3 of 5):
When the Walls Come Tumbling Down
Demolition began on the west stands at Union Tuttle Stadium on Jan. 9, 2020. The home side will be replaced by a structure with improved accessibility along with a new wrestling room, press box, visitor’s locker room and concession stands.
A New Stadium Takes Shape
Rising from the dust of Union’s former stadium is the skeletal framework of the mammoth structure that will take its place. “By the end of the year, 2020, all of the steel structure will be in place,” said Fred Isaacs, Union’s Director of Construction. “By then, all of the concrete precast bleachers will have been installed. Then we will begin closing in the building [in brick] and will have the west side completed in June 2021. That is only eight months away, but we are right on schedule.”
Stadium/East Side Remodel
The stadium’s east side — where visitors sit — wasn’t demolished, but it received updated fixtures and concrete repairs. The bleachers have been renovated, including totally remodeled concessions and two family restrooms with improved accessibility. New concrete sealant and caulking have eliminated water drips when it rains. The walkway was refurbished with fresh concrete, and the concession stand has been completely remodeled. Other upgrades include new lighting and security cameras, as well as a band construction shop underneath for the building of props.
“The concrete was in good shape, but there were leaking issues where there are seams,” said Lee Snodgrass, Executive director of special projects. “We re-caulked and then applied an elastomeric coating with some grit to it, so it’s safer to walk on.”
Other Features of the New Stadium
Union Seniors Sign the Beam
Members of Union High School’s Senior Class of 2021 signed a steel I-beam that was placed in the west side of the new stadium. Flags were attached to both ends of the beam and it was raised into position and welded in place, where the signatures will remain visible once the stadium has been completed. “Given all of the disruption this year, we wanted to give Union seniors something fun to look forward to,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. “Their names will have a permanent place of honor in the new stadium.”
Originally planned for 2022, renovations to Union’s baseball and softball fields at Union Freshman Academy were moved up due to the early availability of funds. “This has been quite an undertaking,” said Lee Snodgrass, due to drainage issues. The playing surface has been flattened and converted from grass to turf. New, lower dugouts – similar to the major leagues – have been created. Sports fencing and netting around home plate have been added. “Now they are truly a dugout,” said Snodgrass, “and both facilities are ADA-compliant, which we’ve never had before.”
“To flatten out the baseball field, we had to raise it using about four feet of dirt. Drainage was one of the most important aspects, as we want to be able to play baseball after it rains. Before we had to wait sometimes as often as a week for the field to dry out, which isn’t practical. With turf, we won’t have the maintenance cost of taking care of grass fields. Provided there are adequate funds, we will upgrade lighting and score boards later.”
Union Innovation Lab opens with 2020 STEM Expo
Union celebrated the grand opening of the Innovation Lab with the 2020 STEM Expo, a stunning new signature event for the district. On Feb. 11, students and families from every elementary school, middle school and Union High School – ages 5 to 18 – showcased their unique critical thinking skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. More than 1,000 people attended the event, giving it a smashing start.
Among the popular presentations were the High School’s Ubotics team, Union Alternative School’s renovated bus, a 7th grade drone demonstration, cat dissections by Advanced Physiology students, roller coaster demonstrations, and code-writing elementary students.
The facility – formerly Metro Outdoor Living, a retail space – went through a significant Phase I renovation. The transformation includes seven classrooms, including a virtual/digital gaming room, a computer lab with 3D printers, the Ubotics lab, as well as classroom space and soft seating. A second phase is planned for later.
Five teachers in the Innovation Lab work together to create problem-based learning experiences that allow students to master the standards in a content area by solving real-life problems. Classes include Principles of Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Science, Environmental Solutions, Computer Science, and other classes, including a Tulsa Tech class.
Bond Funds Provide Technology During Pandemic
A pandemic wasn’t anticipated when planning Union’s bond initiative in 2018. The dollars raised by this historic 5-year bond, however, have proven indispensable in coping with the pandemic. It was especially helpful in providing students districtwide with laptop computers and iPads when the district shifted to distance learning in April.
“If the bond dollars reserved for technology hadn’t been available, I don’t know what we would have done,” said Todd Borland, Executive Director of Information Technology. “In purchasing new computers for students in grades 9-12 for the 1-to-1 program, we were able to move older models down to students in grades 5-8 and cascade existing laptops from grades 6-8 down to 3rd and 4th grade students. It really saved us in trying to equitably distribute technology for distance learning.”
The district purchased 4,580 laptops for students at Union High School and Union Freshman Academy.
New Freezer Doubles District’s Capacity for Frozen Foods
A new 2,500 square foot freezer was purchased for Child Nutrition, which effectively doubled the district’s freezer capacity. This allows the district to make bulk purchases of frozen meat and other items, which saves the district significantly in food costs.
Other Completed Bond Projects