Frank P. Long courtyard unveiled
Superintendent Joseph Giani, members of the board of education, project supervisors, administration and students, cut the ribbon to officially open the new courtyard.

All photos ADV/Rohrbacker

Frank P. Long courtyard unveiled



The Frank P. Long Intermediate School courtyard was officially unveiled last week, after being completely transformed to improve the health and aesthetics of the building. 

Superintendent Joseph Giani dubbed this space an “outdoor learning lab,” with room for group activities, concerts, presentations and more. Work was since done to remove overgrown vegetation, as well as install rain gardens to draw moisture away from the building. The green courtyard has no grass, but rather turf that was installed to reduce maintenance and to prevent bringing gas-operated lawnmowers through the school. 

“We are all very excited of the learning to come, under the leadership of Mrs. [Stefanie] Rucinski, Mrs. [Alicia] Ulberg, and each of our teacher leaders embracing this new learning station,” Giani said.

Plans for the courtyard were approved in May, when voters approved a $2 million capital project proposal. The new courtyard features several rain gardens, permeable pavers, a “green wall” to improve air quality, raised garden beds for use by classes or the garden club, a STEM corner with math and weather activities, flexible seating for students, reading and chalkboard areas and the turf lawn. 

Classes were already held outside on a sunny Wednesday to make use of the new space. Officials pointed out how after a rough storm passed over on Oct. 2, the courtyard was virtually water-free and looked as if there had been no rain at all. 

“We provided an environment for our educators to get the best they possibly can, to teach their students, and also to create a learning environment that they will appreciate and love for years to come,” said Cheryl Felice, president of the board of education.

Students and teachers were taking advantage of the new space during the ceremony, with one class sitting around a shady tree using their Chromebooks, and another class was working on a STEM project using LEGOs and flexible seating. 

“Upon its completion, our students and faculty have been extremely joyful and enthusiastic while using the new courtyard to extend their learning,” said Rucinski, principal of Frank P. Long.

The next phase of the project, part of the capital reserve resolution, will be to reconstruct the windows in the building, which were cited as possible improvements for air quality in an investigation done last year. The windows to the courtyard are visibly faded, and have previously been cited as problematic if not treated with a long-term solution.