Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company (O‑A‑K), a preeminent general contractor with a longstanding presence in Southwest Florida, hosted a topping off ceremony for the new Lehigh Acres Middle School on Wednesday, September 23. A topping-off ceremony is held when the last beam is placed atop a structure during construction. Approximately 1,400 students enrolled at Lehigh Middle will move into the new facility located at 651 Sunrise Boulevard in Lehigh Acres in fall 2021. O‑A‑K is the construction manager for the project.
Attendees included Lee County School Board members, Lee County Schools administration, Lehigh Acres Middle School administration, area elected officials and representatives from the construction team, architects, engineers and inspectors. Attendees were provided with Lehigh Acres Middle School themed masks and hand sanitizers and social distancing was practiced.
“The new Lehigh Acres Middle School will not only help us serve the exploding population here in the East Zone, but it will also offer innovative opportunities that will prepare our students for high school, college and career with world-class academics and programs,” said Lee County School Board Member Gwynetta S. Gittens.
After the topping off ceremony, O‑A‑K provided lunch for more than 200 subcontractors that have worked on the project.
“We are pleased to be a part of this project that will accommodate the rapidly-growing population of students in Lee County,” said Dave Dale, president of O‑A‑K Florida. “We also want to recognize and thank the men and women who have worked so hard to build this state-of-the-art facility.”
The 167,000 square foot facility on 42.53 acres has a total construction cost of nearly $43,000,000. The site will accommodate Elementary School J in the future, and the schools will share an access road, bus loop, and central energy plant. The campus will have 30 classrooms and 16 labs.
The 502 seat gymnasium building will serve a dual purpose as a hurricane shelter. It will be built to Code Council/National Storm Shelter Association Standard for Design and Construction of Storm Shelters (ICC-500) requirements. The cafeteria will be equipped for emergency power to help supply services during an emergency event. The school will include updated security measures, including a single point of entry access control and upgraded hardware on all classroom doors.
Academic programs at the school include the 6th-grade academy that provides a smooth transition while nurturing 6th-grade scholars through this critical period by providing a more supportive instructional environment. The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), an "untracking" program, is designed to help underachieving students with high academic potential prepare for entrance to colleges and universities. The Cambridge International Program is an advanced, rigorous curriculum that prepares students for life; and a gifted program.
Lehigh Acres Middle is a premier STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) school. STEAM is a 21st Century approach to learning that involves these disciplines that are integrated into all subject areas.
The O‑A‑K project manager is Alesha Watchowski, and the site superintendent is Tim Harkins. The project architect is RG Architects, P.A. Johnson Engineering is the civil engineer, and TLC Engineering Solutions is the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer. The structural engineer is TRC Worldwide Engineering.
O‑A‑K’s Florida operation is an affiliate of its parent company located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Florida operation has offices in Collier and Lee counties. Its Lee County office is located at 11941 Fairway Lakes Drive in Fort Myers. Learn more about O‑A‑K at www.owen‑ames‑kimball.com.
“We are pleased to be a part of this project that will accommodate the rapidly-growing population of students in Lee County,” said Dave Dale, president of O‑A‑K Florida.