Inside the Register of Deeds Office, a group of young interns gathered around a pile of old construction maps for Midway Middle School. Each map had a difference purpose for just about every aspect of the building.
“I’m trying to make sure they’re numbered correctly so when they’re put into the computer, it won’t get messed up,” said intern Jordan Fitzgerald, while looking at a table full of maps from Sampson County Schools.
For several weeks, they went through thousands, trying to find the best of the best. With each find, they made schools safer in the future through an internship by Sampson County Schools, the Register of Deeds Office and the Office of Emergency Management.
The work consisted of digitizing old school maps for state and local officials, which can be used for emergency situations.
“It’s good to see Sampson County making proactive steps into the future,” intern Houston Bouchard said.
Lou Nelon, executive director of Auxiliary Services for Sampson County Schools, said it will allow officials to receive a layout of buildings.
“We were thinking about that, even before it became a requirement from state,” Nelon said. “It’s really great for us that those kids were able to take their time to do that.”
The interns received somewhat of a history lesson, since most of the maps date back to the 1940s and 1950s. Along with the Register of Deeds Office, the interns also visited other locations such as the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office.
As an example, Deno McLamb, safety coordinator for Sampson County Schools, said Union Intermediate School had five different construction stages from the 1940s through 2009.
“We had five different wings put on that school,” McLamb said. “That’s pretty much what it is — preserving county history and school plans. The kids should get all the credit for volunteering and giving up their summer.”
McLamb has worked with Jerry Cashwell, of emergency management for many years to make sure the districts buildings are safe for students. He said the intern project was a county effort.
Cashwell said the state’s emergency management offered a bid to a contractor who is looking at school systems across the state, to have a digitized system with aerial photos. The end result will be secured plans, which are accessible for officials.
“If there’s any kind of a emergency situation in a school, they’ll have all the floor plans available,” Cashwell said.
After the information is entered into the system, Cashwell said they can build on the basic footprint. One example is looking a fire alarm systems.
“There’s so much you can do with it, once the basics get put in the system,” Cashwell said.
In addition, Nelon said law enforcement or emergency personnel can have access to the information by just having a small flash drive.
“It’s not these bug humongous plans,” Nelon said.
Using mapping equipment would have been expensive for the school district, but Nelon said Eleanor Bradshaw, Sampson County’s Register of Deeds, assisted with the process. The office is the only one with a scanner large enough to copy the images.
“It’s real good to save all of that money and do it at one place in the county if we can,” Nelon said.
The majority of participants in the intern program recently graduated from high schools in Sampson County. A notice seeking interns was sent to principals, counselors and school officials in the spring.
Intern Reid Tyler learned that there’s a lot more that goes into plans for schools than just building.
“There’s a lot of stuff on those papers that go really in-depth into things such as plumbing and electrical,” Tyler said.
Nick Baggett, a student attending Methodist University, also assisted with the project. Lori Monk, instructional technology facilitator for Sampson County Schools, organized maps for the different districts by entering them into a system for state and local officials.
Dr. Wesley Johnson, director of digital literacy and accountability, thought it would be an excellent idea for the students to get involved with a positive experience during the summer. In addition, Johnson hoped they made connections to professionals such as Monk and others in the area.
“I told them multiple times that we’re hoping that they’ll go on to college, but also return to Sampson County to be good productive viable citizens for us,” Johnson said. “I wanted them to make the contacts and do the tours so they can know what our county is about.”
Intern Ritchel Cousar plans to attend North Carolina State University in the fall to study engineering. Therefore, the mapping internship gave him a little taste of something related to field.
“As a kid coming up in school, you underestimate everything because it’s already there for you,” Cousar said. “You don’t look at the deeper picture. But through this project, we’ve seen that there are so many other things that go into building those schools.
“It’s almost overwhelming,” Cousar continued. “It gives us a better appreciation of what’s been given to us as students of Sampson County.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.