Sharon O'Hara sits at her makeshift desk at MacArthur Middle School,nearly buried beneath a mountain of boxes filled with the tools thatmake an elementary school run -- from student files to sharpened No.2 pencils.
The boxes, copy machines, beds for the nurse's office and textbooks are stacked above eye-level in no particular order, a jumble of crates that will have to be broken down, sorted and organized by the end of this month.
"The shipping companies are beginning to hate us," said O'Hara, an Odenton Elementary School secretary.
For two years the elementary school has been conducting classes in a wing at MacArthur, within Fort Meade and about five miles from its permanent site. But at the end of this month, long-awaited renovations will be complete and the 330 students in grades kindergarten through five will be able to return.
"I hope the parents are looking forward to the return and havinga brand new building," said Odenton Elementary principal Barbara SanGabino, who must not only coordinate the move, but prepare for the upcoming school year.
"I've been working out of five briefcases andI hope I have everything I need," San Gabino said.
The students, 11 teachers, aids and instructors have not been in the Odenton schoolsince September 1989, when the $6 million renovation project -- adding 20,000 square feet -- began.
Builders have added a new two-story section, a gym, a modern science lab, air conditioning, a library -- complete with a computerized card-catalog -- and two playgrounds.
"It will have state-of-the-art technology," San Gabino said, addingthat the computer lab will have 32 IBM PS/20 terminals. Each classroom also will have one computer that is part of the entire system.
But there still is a lot of work to do. With school starting Sept. 3,workers were just starting to build the shelves for the library lastweek. And all the books must be cataloged for the computer system.
San Gabino said the students handled their stay at MacArthur well, despite being bused away from their neighborhoods.
"We have very little contact with the middle school students," she said. "They had their space and we had ours."
But San Gabino said that when the twogroups did come together, it was a positive experience for the younger students. "The MacArthur staff and principal were exceptionally gracious," she said. "They were great hosts while we've been here."