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Mr. Sun to shine every day at school

The new Safety Harbor Middle School opens today for about 1,500 students and features the latest technology.

By MEGAN SCOTT
Published November 29, 2004


SAFETY HARBOR - The sun will be shining every day at the new Safety Harbor Middle School.

That is because workers installed an 18-foot-high sun sculpture in the courtyard on Friday. The sun is wearing dark sunglasses and a big smile.

"Every day for the last couple of weeks, I've been saying to the kids, "Mr. Sun is going to be in the new building,' " Principal Alison Kennedy said. "I show them this plastic sun with sunglasses."

The new Safety Harbor Middle School opened this morning to about 1,500 students.

The 175,000-square-foot building features some of the latest technology, including microphones, televisions and security cameras.

There are also Dell computers in the classrooms, portable labs and a television studio.

And then a 600-pound sun mounted 7 feet from the ground, right in front of the school.

"This is unlike anything I have ever seen before anywhere," said Jay Goulde, executive director of the Outdoor Arts Foundation, who helped with the project. "To have something this creative, this fun, this whimsical, it will really bring a ray of sunshine to the students."

Kennedy said she chose a sun sculpture because she wanted something kid-friendly with a Florida style.

She had solicited ideas from designers. They came back with clay models of marble sculptures.

"I just thought some kind of marble sculpture wasn't exactly what I was looking for," she said. "I drew a sun with big black sunglasses like an old '50s and '60s postcard. Then I just drew this sea hawk sitting on one of the rays of the sun."

The PTSA, which donated the money for the sculpture, approved the sun idea.

Goulde, whose organization helps facilitate art projects, referred Kennedy to the Resource Factory in Sarasota.

The company has done 3-D fiberglass products for Disney, Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon.

A sun for a school was no big deal, said Scott Hamblin, owner of the company.

He said it took about three weeks to construct the fiberglass sun, which was transported on a trailer and installed with a crane. He added that this was the first sun he had ever made.

"It's a very uplifting thing," Hamblin said about the sun. "It's very bright and shiny. It looks like a big piece of candy."

The new school is located next to the old middle school on Seventh Street S.

School officials had determined a couple of years ago that the old building constructed in the 1960s was obsolete. The science classrooms and family and consumer science rooms were badly in need of renovation.

And the school needed more classroom space.

Kennedy said she was eager to see the looks on the students' faces when they arrived at their new school this morning.

The students have only seen the interior on their morning television show. Insurance purposes did not allow them to tour the school beforehand.

"They can't wait to go to the new building," Kennedy said. "It's the same plan as other schools in the county, but it has its own look about it because of the bright colors and the palm trees. . . . I think the sun is going to be pretty cool."

Megan Scott can be reached at 445-4167 or mscott@sptimes.com

[Last modified November 29, 2004, 00:40:18]


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