|By Carley Dangona
The new West Springfield High School will officially open on Feb. 25. Above: The 13-foot deep, 16-lane pool is now being filled with water.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
WEST SPRINGFIELD – The new West Springfield High School is nearing completion and is on track to open on Feb. 25.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Russell Johnston said the school district initially requested a renovation of the 60-year-old high school, but the state denied its request. The Commonwealth did however fund the construction of the new $107.1 million high school, which is a redesign of a model school in Hudson. Once the new school is in use, the old high school will be torn down.
“The building is basically done,” Mayor Edward Sullivan said. “The construction is right on schedule.” He said that the faculty will move in over winter break, Feb. 15 to 23. The keys to the old high school will be handed over to the contractor on March 1 for demolition.
In a recent interview with Reminder Publications, Johnston addressed the size of the new auditorium that has the capacity to seat 680 students. He explained that the old auditorium was built to suit town meetings. Despite a seating capacity of 1,170, the entire student body couldn’t fit into that auditorium so school assemblies were conducted in the gym, as it will be in the new high school.
The superintendent also discussed a recent $3,500 repair to the gymnasium floor at the soon to be demolished high school. He said that normally, the floor is refinished annually to ensure the surface provides adequate traction for students to avoid slips, falls and injuries.
Johnston stated the School Department had two separate flooring companies assess the floor this school year to see if sports could safely continue without the annual maintenance. Both advised that it could be done if a specific cleaning product was applied to the floor.
According to Johnston, the treatment did not work and the floor required resurfacing to ensure the safety of the students. He noted it would have been more costly to pay for any injuries incurred due to a slippery floor.
At its regular meeting on Jan. 21, the Town Council approved the charitable donation of surplus furniture and equipment that will no longer be utilized once the move to the new high school is complete. Town departments and other schools in the district will be able to survey the inventory and take items of use.
On Feb. 28, nonprofit organizations will be able to view and pickup things that they have a need for.
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