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Blending past and present

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By Robin Bass

Spencer County High School threw open its doors last Thursday and invited the community to a preview of the renovation work being completed.

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“It looks incredible,” said Dan Cooper, whose son, Arden, is a 10th grader attending the school.

A couple hundred people took Principal Tracy Bale up on his offer of a free spaghetti dinner and a self-guided tour of the facilities. Parents and community leaders filtered among the classrooms – admiring the bright, blue seats of the new students’ desks. Younger siblings checked out the newly-furnished library with its set of two-story windows in one corner.

“It’s been so long since (the students) have had anything new, they have been very appreciative,” said Bale.

During his brief opening remarks, Superintendent Chuck Adams said that he was thankful for the previous school board’s vision for a facility that could handle the coming influx of students in the coming years. Estimates are that the 1,000 capacity school will swell to over 900 this coming school year.

Adams also thanked the students and staff for enduring more than 18 months of construction while crews continued their hectic work schedules during the school year.

“That’s tough on anyone,” said Adams. “It’s been a tooth-pulling experience, but, I think you’ll agree it’s now time to reap the rewards.”

Librarian Marlene Kleinjan said she feels rewarded everytime she sets foot into the school’s new media center. After 10 years working in a space that was surrounded by towering book shelves and cinder block walls, she’s happy to finally have a room with a view.

“We’ve never had windows before. I’m enjoying all the natural light,” she said.

Thursday night’s preview of the school facilities was just a sample of the fanfare being planned by the district once construction is complete. Closer to the end of the school year, Director of Operations Brett Beaverson said the district will hold a grand opening – inviting state and county officials,  members of the local chamber of commerce, project architects, contractors, school administrator, teachers, students, parents and the public to a formal celebration.

Meanwhile, work still needs to be finished on the school’s exterior, grand hall and in the adminstrative office suites. Beaverson said that he anticipates the grand hall – which will eventually be the main entrance into the building – to be turned over to the school next week. Once contractors have transitioned out of that area, office furniture can be moved in and phones can be rewired. Beaverson said his hopes are that after spring break, the high school’s administrative staff will be working in their new offices.

Within two weeks, Beaverson said work to the school’s exterior should be completed. He said the final installation of the metal facade was delayed by a couple of weeks because of a minor measurement error.

So, with all the new shelving and furniture being installed – what will happen to all the used items?

“We’re going to have a big auction in June,” said Beaverson, of the district’s plan to sell older student desks, teacher desks and shelving. The official date has yet to be set, but Beaverson said the  auction will be held in the school’s auxillary gym.