WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — West Haven officials cut the ribbon on the first stage of the renovation project at the West Haven High School on Tuesday.
For two years and counting, West Haven High School students have been learning in the middle of a construction site.
“For a long time i just saw big piles of dirt and I was like, okay, let’s get on with it,” said senior Samiya Sutherland.
“A lot of things can get in the way and things can get confusing,” said senior Elizabeth Hall.
“But I think it’s worth it,” said senior Shelby Gagne. “It’s really nice to see the progress.”
They celebrated phase one of that progress with a ribbon cutting. Students began this school year with an entire new wing on the school.
“The phase that you’re standing in now represents 47% of the over all new building,” said building committee chair Ken Carney, while standing in the new media center. “We have 108,000 square feet in this wing.”
That media center is state-of-the-art. A media center is what we used to call a library. Big windows there offer views all the way to Long Island Sound.
There is a new cafeteria, as well, much bigger and nicer than the last. Tables have charging stations, and the kitchen now has a salad bar and a pizza bar.
Many classes are still being held in the old building, where crews have been removing asbestos for more than two years.
“There was a lot of abatement that took place over the summer,” said West Haven schools superintendent Neil Cavallaro. “The building received an all clear sign, and kids were allowed to come back in as of last Friday.”
Students and teachers will no longer have to sweat it out in the heat like in the old building.
“It’s state of the art. It looks like a college,” said Mayor Nancy Rossi (D-West Haven). “It is air conditioned, like we talked about, and another thing, it’s under budget.”
That budget is around $130 million, three quarters of which is paid by the state. In that new media center, I asked students to compare what it was like then, and now.
“It basically looked like a whole lot of construction and I was really interested in what it would look like today,” said junior Nora Mullins.
“It’s really worth it,” said senior Jasmine Sellers. “It’s honestly so beautiful here that I’m glad that we had to go through that construction.”
“And we still have the old building, so it’s kind of nice to have the old and the new,” said senior Daelle Coriolan.
The project will still take another couple of years to complete. It is taking so long because there is only so much they can do at once and still leave the school open and safe for 1,500 students.
If all goes according to plan, the whole building should be done by the first day of school in 2021. That’s two years from now. Some other things around the property have to be taken care of after that, so the whole project should be wrapped up in the spring of 2022.