Upper Elementary School Prepares For Overhaul


Discoverer Staff Photo

Juan Fernando Mesa, Paula Duque and a staff member working on the architectural designs for the upcoming Upper Elementary School reform in May 2020.

Martin Escobar Bolivar, Discoverer Staff Writer

After finishing several projects, like the new library, The Columbus School has set its sights on remodeling different sections of the upper-elementary edifice. Construction is set to begin in May 2020.

Maintenance, the team in charge of this enterprise, aims to finalize the renovations of the offices, cafeteria, learning center, and infirmary as soon as possible. Juan Fernando Mesa, head of the TCS general services team, and Paula Duque, the school’s titular architect, will act as supervisors for this massive undertaking. Duque explained that, though some of the upcoming changes are optional and for convenience purposes only, other modifications are urgent.

“Initially we analyze some needs that, in some cases, are evident. For example, in the elementary cafeteria, the ‘asado’ area does not comply with the regulations,” Duque said.

Six years ago, Duque, Mesa, and the rest of the TCS administrative staff determined that a vital alteration to school grounds would be the addition of an expanded high school cafeteria. Now, the same key players have deemed upper elementary as the segment of the school that demands a transformation. Mesa explained how it all fits into TCS’ long-term plan.

“All these changes are going to happen because the school has a development plan since its inception. This development plan continuously manages the needs that arise in the school. In this case, the elementary cafeteria became a priority,” Mesa said.

Even though tuition at TCS is one of the most expensive in Colombia, Mesa argues that one of the reasons why is that the school continuously tries to upgrade the campus in order for the students to feel more comfortable there, and progress does not come without a cost.

“The entirety of the school’s capital must be reinvested in the school. That’s written in Colombian law. So, all the money that the students invest ends up returning to them in some way,” Mesa said. 

Despite aiming to revamp a large part of the upper-elementary building, Mesa will focus on the cafeteria, since that is the place where students would spend their free time during recess. Not only will the school spend its time and resources on enhancing the lives of the younger students by erecting this lunchroom, but it will also try to replicate the success of the high school cafeteria and its gastronomic variety.

“[With this project], students will gain an adequate space for eating. [Other renovations matter too] but [the cafeteria] is the main thing. Also, we will be able to provide different forms of food so that they have several options, like the ones they have in high school,” Mesa said.

In addition, Catalina Lopera, Vice-Principal of upper-elementary, elucidated on how the renewal of this part of the school will ameliorate students’ lives, while making it easier for teachers and administrators to know where every person is. Lopera also mentioned how this division of TCS will be more structured after the project is completed.

“These are modifications that will change many things and will be positive for our students and for our staff. The amount of sound and aeration will decrease and it will become a more functional cafeteria. The infirmary, offices and learning center exist for everyone’s well-being. I think this construction will centralize [them], [as well as] elementary [as a whole] and everything will become more organized,” Lopera said.