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Topping-Off Ceremony is a Significant Milestone for Emerald High School

November 15, 2022

A symbolic, yet meaningful event occurred on November 4th at an active construction zone in Dublin situated between Central Parkway and Dublin Blvd. The weather cooperated and welcomed various members of the Dublin Unified School District office staff, leadership from throughout the district, and many members of the community. At 1:00 pm, the site was opened to the public to safely walk-through elements of the Phase 1 construction of Emerald High School (“EHS”).  This was a “feet on the ground” experience to view up close what many had wondered would ever come to fruition.

This oftentimes circuitous journey of realizing EHS officially began in 2015. To gain some perspective this was the same year that the musical “Hamilton” debuted in Lower Manhattan, NY, the Golden State Warriors won their first NBA championship in 40 years, and Microsoft launched Windows 10.

Guests gather to sign the beam before it is raised into place. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

The completion of Phase 1 of EHS is scheduled for December 2023 and will include these features: Administration building, Student Union, Visual & Performance Arts Center, Gymnasium, Locker rooms and Academic Tower 1. A highlight of the gathering with the signing of the last beam that would later be installed. This ceremony is referred to as a “Topping Off”. It is an ancient Scandinavian religious rite of placing a tree atop a new structure. The tradition continues in most of Northern Europe and the United States.

It was appropriate that the Facilities Department host this milestone event and it was presided over by Thomas Moore, Assistant Superintendent of Facility Planning and Construction. He was also joined by leadership from BHM Construction and PBK Architects. We took this opportunity ask Mr. Moore to further shed light on this massive project and to give us a peek inside the Facilities Department. In a design-build project, an agency may hire a single firm to complete both design and construction. For Emerald High School, there were separate entities for both tasks. For the benefit of those not familiar with facilities construction, please articulate the importance of the relationship between DUSD and BHM Construction. In your view, has the relationship been successful thus far?

Thomas Moore: “I consider the relationship between DUSD and BHM Construction to be very important to the success of this project. Phase one of the Emerald High project was procured using conventional bidding methods. Phase One was designed and approved by DSA (Division of State Architect), the plans were included in an open to the public bidding process and awarded to the low bidder. This can go horribly wrong at times as the prequalification part of the process is limited and can be less than successful in limiting some questionable general Contractors.

I feel fortunate that our process has yielded a quality contractor at the best price possible. That doesn’t always happen. and many of the better General contractors will not even compete in a low bidder solicitation. BHM Construction will and did successfully compete as the low bidder. The relationship established between DUSD and BHM Contractors has been excellent from day one and continues to be. BHM totally gets the importance of this project to DUSD and considers the success of this project as extremely important to their company.” 

(Left to Right) Thomas Moore, Assistant Superintendent of Facility Planning & Construction and Eric Sih, Senior Project Manger for EHS. Photo by: Michael Utsumi This is the largest and most ambitious construction project since Cottonwood Creek School was completed and opened in 2018. In many ways it will look and feel very different from Dublin High School. Please point out some of the design features/elements that will be completely unique to Emerald High School.

Moore: “The most unique features of Emerald High School are inherent in its compact design, The academic spaces are all in very close proximity to each other, making the trip from the library to class and back to the library or student union quick and easy.  There are two academic 3-story towers that will house most of the classroom connected by a 2nd story covered walkway. This is a feature that will be unique to Emerald High and will make circulation for our students very convenient.”  In addition to EHS, there are multiple construction and modernization projects occurring throughout the district. In this period, it appears to be an “all hands-on deck” approach to keeping everything on time and on task. Please take a moment to express your thoughts on the efforts put forth by your entire facilities team.

Moore: “I like the “all hands-on deck” analogy very much. We have been understaffed in the past, but I am proud to say that efforts put forth by Superintendent Funk and Assistant Superintendent for H.R. Heather Duncan now have us one position away from what I consider a “dream Team”. Our four project Managers, Eric Sih, Tabatha Hoak, Jack Jeha and Freeda Bennett, are successfully managing multiple projects both in planning and design and under construction. This is supported by Owen Fish, Senior Director of Bond administration and the rest of our team comprised of two Facilities Planners, Christopher Beamon and Tina Gerlach, Contracts and Purchasing Manager Joel Ross, Accountant Clara Divino, and Technicians Sabina James and Miranda Crawford. Special thanks to my Secretary Heidi Holmes – she keeps track of and supports all of us and that’s quite a job. I have worked on many high-performance teams over the last 45 years, and this is one of the best. The level of commitment, cooperation, and teamwork this group consistently displays is exceptional.”

EHS Principal Francis Rojas. Photo by: Michael Utsumi
(Left to Right) Loren Gretchen, PBK Architects, Jeff Mazet, BHM Construction, and Thomas Moore, DUSD. Photo by: Michael Utsumi would like to thank Thomas Moore and all his colleagues for their devotion to both building and maintaining excellence in the district’s facilities. The new home of the Serpents is on its way!


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