Last spring, the teachers in Flowing Wells High School’s Life Skills Department decided it was time to upgrade the building’s bathroom.
The bathroom was about 15 years old but was run down and inadequate for the department’s students, who have a wide range of mental and physical disabilities.
But instead of just settling for a new bathroom, the department’s students and teachers transformed the bathroom into a “spa” with a walk-in bathtub, cubbyholes for the students’ belongings and a table for students to change their clothes and receive massages.
The students and teachers partnered with district maintenance crews to texturize the walls, patch holes, install tiles, and paint the bathroom and an adjacent lounge.
Maintenance crews and contractors also installed the tub, cubbyholes, a new water heater and baseboards.
The students helped choose the tables, chairs and art, mostly purchased from local thrift shops.
The students, along with other school and district officials, celebrated the completion of the bathroom Friday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We’re always about trying to improve these rooms so that they meet the needs of the students,” said Maria Frontain, head of the Life Skills Department. “The kids change from year to year, so our needs change.”
The tub was installed before the school year began, but the students and crews worked throughout the fall semester to complete the rest of the work, Frontain said.
The new facility will make it easier for program workers to bathe students who have physical disabilities and change their clothes.
It has also helped some of the poorer students who have no hot or running water in their homes by allowing them to use the tub at school.
“It helps them learn how to take a shower and be independent,” said Linda Poulson, 18, a senior in the program.
In addition, the students learned how to work together and socialize, as well as other skills that will help prepare them for jobs.
The purpose of the life-skills program is to teach students skills to not only find work after high school but also gain independence, Frontain said.
“Everything we do is life-skill-, job-skill-oriented,” she said.