Residents tour newly renovated high school

Residents enjoyed a dinner at the newly-renovated high school cafeteria before taking a self-guided tour of the school building during the open house last Thursday evening. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS

The LINC (Learning Information Networking Center) had plenty of visitors during the tour as residents explored where students spend a good portion of their school day. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
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Chatfield residents enjoyed dinner and a tour — the ultimate Thursday-night entertainment — at the newly-renovated Chatfield High School.

“The Chatfield Board of Education, students, staff and administration thank the community for supporting the renovations at the high school. Please be our guest to dine and visit ‘featured spaces’ in the building to learn more about the project from students and staff,” stated a guided tour program. The program was handed out to open house attendees at Chatfield High School this past Thursday, Nov. 29, as more than 400 people stopped by to see what their contributions to the school district had done to update and upgrade the high school facility after two years of renovations.

Superintendent Ed Harris, members of the school board and staff and students manned stations along the halls of the overhauled high school, showing off that it is now equipped for state of the art learning and collaboration.

Karyl Lyon, business administrator, and Lorri Lowrey, superintendent’s assistant, greeted attendees at the newly-remodeled heated front entrance that replaced the long porch-like canopy that was meant to keep students dry while waiting for the bus or a ride. School Board members Jerry Chase and Matt McMahon took posts near the new dining commons — where everyone who came was welcomed and shown the new open-concept kitchen that allows students to proceed through two lunch lines at a time, expediting lunch hour.

The program listed that interior work in classrooms included new ceilings, LED lights, paint, flooring, casework, instructional and environmental technologies, desks and chairs, doors, windows, and door hardware security upgrades.

Additionally, the two science labs have been relocated, enlarged and modernized.

The former media center doesn’t resemble itself at all — in fact, it has a new name as the Learning Information Networking Center (LINC), a kitchenette and breakout spaces for students to work independently or collaboratively — and the former large group room adjacent is now the Forum Room, which has been modernized with audio and video equipment and tiered flexible seating.

The hallways are brighter with new LED lighting and new paint, doors and lockers, and going to the restroom doesn’t mean having to guess whether one is in the right place, as a new single use restroom was installed near the district office.

A basketball game taking place in the gymnasium offered the players and other students new bleachers, paint, LED lighting, new baskets, wall pads, a batting cage, a sanded and repainted floor and a giant Chatfield Gopher charging out of a mural on the wall.

The locker rooms have been expanded, the fitness room relocated and modernized and the wrestling room is dedicated to more flexible use of the multipurpose room in midwinter when demand for indoor practice space is high.

The band room now has a place to store all the horns and woodwinds, and the staff has a new lounge to enjoy that doubles as a training and meeting room.

The exterior has undergone a significant update — no longer does it look like it was built in 1960-something. And, there are heated sidewalks. That’s right — the main entry and sidewalk has been expanded to give more prominence and usability to the doorway, adds security when visitors arrive, screens the utility plant that used to be the first thing everyone saw, and the heated cement walk is toasty and ready to prevent ice building up there.

The entries have been given new doors and glass, the windows and doors have all been replaced, there’s metal cladding to give the south and east sides of the school more insulation and a jazzy appearance, the brick has been repaired and stained, the roof has new covering where necessary, and new LED lights shine around the building for safety.

Mechanical and infrastructural work done encompasses updated door security, the new rooftop heating, air conditioning and ventilation units to keep air and temperatures steady throughout the school for better student concentration, the boiler has been reconditioned and the building rewired where new spark was in order.

The jewel of the project is the 10,000-square-foot addition that houses the agri-science and STEM programs, complete with lab and shop for students to learn how to grow or build things through hands-on experience.

The two-hour open house gave residents of the district a chance to wander the halls at their leisure, taking in the newness of it all after enjoying dinner and a chat in the new cafeteria.

Harris signed the back of the event’s program with a statement that read, “Thank you for attending the open house. We are quite proud of our building and we hope that you are, too.”