As crazy as it sounds, Hayes High School Principal Ric Stranges thinks students will be excited to return to their studies when summer vacation ends.
The building on Euclid Avenue in Delaware is abuzz with activity as workers attempt to wrap up an expansion and renovation project before Aug. 16, the first day of school.
Stranges said students were "giddy" to return from spring break to see the opening of a new wing with 22 math and science classrooms. The section is named after F. Sherwood Rowland, a Delaware native who earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995.
"One of the students said, 'I can't believe we deserve this,' " Stranges said. "It was that neat to them."
Work still underway at the site includes the construction of a new, more-secure entrance, the creation of a new dining area called the Homestretch and the renovation of the old woodshop space into an athletic training and fitness center.
Stranges said the high school also will have "showplace" locker rooms and "state-of-the-art" labs for newspaper and video production.
Stranges said high school staff members are looking forward to the completion of the project, which was influenced by their feedback and suggestions.
"I think when you're part of it and you take ownership of it, to see it come to fruition is very exciting," he said.
Caution tape and construction workers have been familiar sights at Delaware schools in recent years. Voters in 2013 approved a $50 million bond issue for expansion and renovation projects throughout the Delaware City School District.
While the majority of district buildings have seen workers depart for good, crews remain at Hayes, as well as Smith and Woodward elementary schools.
Superintendent Paul Craft said work at the elementary schools should wrap up before mid-August.
"I'm not particularly worried about either of those projects finishing on time," he said.
Craft said the completion of the project at Hayes likely will come down to the wire because of work that was delayed until students left the building.
"We knew we were packing a lot of work into a short summer," he said.
Stranges said he thinks there's a good chance the project at Hayes will wrap up by the end of summer vacation -- a fact he credits to the relationship between contractors and school staff.
"Students are coming either way, but we are definitely on track," he said. "I've never seen a better collaborative (effort)."
Stranges said Hayes students also deserve credit for putting up with the district's dust.
"I didn't have one student or one parent ... ever complain (or) say, 'I can't believe that construction's going on when we're trying to teach,' " he said.