That's what helped students, teachers, staff, and parents get through the first five months of a year-long construction project at George A. Smith Middle School.
It's also the lesson principal Paul Gladfelter is taking to Swift Middle School as it starts its own construction project this summer.
The project will include new offices for both schools, a new gymnasium for Clermont, and an auditorium for Swift. That project will create more new space than the work at Smith. The Swift/Clermont project is expected to cost more than the $12.2 million project at Smith.
Gladfelter, who is principal of both Solanco middle schools, has helped Smith move through its first major expansion and renovation in 36 years. Beginning this summer, he'll do the same thing at Swift.
"It's going to be unique at Swift, because the length and scope of the project [at Swift] is different," he said.
But the experience at Smith will be valuable for the project at Swift.
"We will use that [experience] to prepare the staff, give the parents a heads-up, and work with the kids. As long as we can all communicate, it will work," Gladfelter said.
While communication was good, it could have been better, the principal said.
"We need to communicate now and before the school year begins because the traffic patterns at the school will change," Gladfelter said. "The buses will unload and load behind the school rather than in front and the parents will pick up students in front instead of behind the building. We have to make sure we have clearly marked signs so people understand where the parents and visitors have to go with the new pattern."
That communication will continue throughout the project.
"We will use a number of different types of communication so we make sure everyone is in the loop," he said.
The Smith project has gone smoothly because everyone involved has worked well together. That includes the construction company, Lobar.
"The [construction] people have been nice and accommodating and the kids have been respectful. We've gotten good feedback from the construction company and it's nice to hear, from outsiders who have been a lot of different places, how delightful they have found our students and staff," he said.
Lobar employees have also worked with the students in classes, giving interviews and working with the pupils.
Gladfelter said he hopes the same interaction will exist during the Swift project.
"Obviously, we don't know if Lobar will bid on the project or get it. But it would be nice to have the same relationship between Swift's staff and kids and the contractor, whoever it is," the principal said.
Once the work is completed at Swift and Clermont, the building will be about as large as Solanco High School.