Going forward into NKU construction

June 18, 2014

Behind them lay the campus dorms, bathed in sunlight, comforting. Ahead of them stood the doors of the construction site, dark and unfamiliar. So why go forward?

Their job was to cover the construction of Norse Commons, the on-campus cafeteria closed for remodeling. Hard hats must be donned, videos shot, questions asked. They’re professionals now.

Megan New (right) captures the progress of Norse Commons construction.
Megan New (right) captures the progress of Norse Commons construction.

“I don’t know what to ask,” Hayley New had said before they left, trying to phrase interview questions. The group of four, quiet and slightly anxious, followed their mentor, their pace slow and their minds on the task ahead.

An early arrival meant more time spent in the heat, so the students filled the time by taking pictures and video. Hayley and her cousin, Megan New, tried unsuccessfully to sneak pictures of the construction workers going in and out of the building, but their blushes and giggles betrayed them.

Michael Xiang,  who will be a freshman at Sycamore High this fall, wrestled with his tripod while Allan Millward from Dixie Heights, waited patiently, taking the occasional photograph.

“Have any of you been to a construction site before?” asked Rob Knarr, project manager of the Norse Commons construction when he walked up. The students all shook their heads, Michael glancing at his mentor as if seeking reassurance. Perhaps he was asking, “Why should we go forward?”

But forward they went. Behind those dark doors lay materials and men, scattered and busy, progress evident yet there was obviously still work to do. The students whipped out their cameras, wide-eyed and hesitant, unsure of their shots and their footing.

“How much will the project cost?” asked Megan. Knarr volleyed it back, “What’s your guess?” They guessed about $1 million. The actual cost is $2.6 million, Knarr said.

“Excuse me.” The students hopped aside to let the man carrying the long board pass, their cameras jarring with the sudden movement. Around the next corner they watched the electricians wire the drink station, a small distance away from where the tables will go, which Knarr said would “help stray from that cafeteria feel.”

“Watch your feet,” their mentor warned, as small objects were kicked up from their feet. Going forward, they turned corners, stopping for more information, filming behind them as they entered each new space.

Michael switched from camera to notepad, scribbling quotes as they came while Hayley and Megan captured the information on screen.  Allan stood behind them, absorbing the information mentally as he listened to the conversation.

Toward the end Knarr explained the massive roll of paper under his arm, the design plans. “Design takes the most time,” he demonstrated with his hands. Still moving forward, they discussed the different tasks that must be completed, the different parties involved.

And then they were out. Hard hats were returned, hair fluffed and farewells given. Enthusiasm, interest had been sparked. The pace quicker and their footing surer, they returned for lunch. Discussion was open and they talked more, their mentor less. The hardest part was yet to come, but they were going forward.


-By Kerry Skiff

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Going forward into NKU construction