Cloudy weather didn't dampen the mood Oct. 12 as school officials, board members and guests used shovels to turn a little dirt, ceremonially launching construction of the more than two-year project to transform the current Englewood High School area into a modern seventh- through 12th-grade campus.
Work had been under way on the Englewood High School campus since spring as crews demolished the Lowell Building, technical arts building, tennis courts and pool and hauled away the debris.
The completed demolition provided a large open area where the groundbreaking ceremony was held.
“This is the beginning of the next step of the project and soon we'll see crews moving a lot of dirt so they pour foundations for the first of the building,” said Brian Ewert, school superintendent. “This is the kickoff of a major, exciting project symbolizing that Englewood Schools is moving into the 21st century and are here to stay.”
Ewert said that, along with new buildings, the district is making major changes to curriculum and instruction methods.
“We have to understand we are educating students and preparing them for jobs that may not exist today,” he said. “That requires a different approach to teaching in order to have graduates who are critical thinkers, problem-solvers and have the ability to collaborate to solve problems. We must do that because we are told that in the near future, it will be rare to find a job that is done in isolation.”
Ewert said the new campus will be state-of-the-art and will include the equipment for a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, a culinary arts program and a visual arts performance program.
“We are thinking and talking about the future of technology being on a one-to-one basis, meaning every student will have some form of technology in his or her hands every day,” the superintendent said. “Technology is definitely changing things and I can see the time in the not-too-distant future when there will be few traditional textbooks, as just about all textbooks will be available on laptop computers or pads.”
The groundbreaking signaled the start of construction needed to create a modern campus.
All the buildings will be new except the auditorium and the field house. However, both of those buildings will undergo major renovations.
The campus transformation will cost about $40 million that is available because voters gave the district approval to sell bonds.
Work now will begin on phase one construction that will build about 65 percent of the project.
This phase will include construction of what will become the middle school facility on the north end of the site. The construction also will include most of the common areas like science labs that, when the project is completed, will be used by both high school and middle school students. Phase one is tentatively scheduled to be completed by November 2013.
The next phase will involve moving the high school students, teachers and classrooms to the newly constructed middle school building. That is tentatively scheduled to happen over the winter break in 2013.
Shifting the high school classes to the new building is necessary so the remaining high school buildings can be demolished. That makes way for construction of the final 35 percent of the project. The demolition of the main high school building and completion of the remainder of the project is scheduled to begin in January 2014 and be completed by November of that year.