Winnacunnet's $27M Renovation Takes Shape

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By Susan Morse

Herald Sunday, Sunday, April 24, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Herald Sunday and

Seacoast Online]

A worker uses a bright light to check for imperfections on a cement wall. Gaps that are found will be patched before the wall is painted. [Photo by Jamie Cohen]

HAMPTON -- Twenty-seven million dollars still buys quite a chunk of real estate in Hampton, as anyone who has seen the new gymnasium rising out of the ground at Winnacunnet High School can attest.

The $26.8 million high school renovation and addition project is showing tangible results, at both the gym site and near the school’s main entrance, where demolition crews this past week tore down an old special education wing. The former wing of 11 classrooms will become two stories of 23 rooms, including 12 new science labs, said Principal Ruth Leveille.

The addition will contain the school’s new main entrance, now located next to Winnacunnet Performing Arts Center. Overall, the project approved by voters two years ago is on schedule and on target for completion in February 2006, said Pro Con Superintendent Steve Nordaby.

One project is ahead of schedule. During spring break this week, Pro Con will begin renovating the interior of the old gymnasium, getting it ready as the school’s new cafeteria.

The new cafeteria is expected to open when students start school this fall, instead of as originally scheduled after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The old cafeteria will become a band room, a chorus room and a video-recording studio, where daily school announcements will be broadcast live, Leveille said. Currently, the band and chorus teacher share a room.

Most of the interior work will begin after school is out this summer.

The new gym, which is separate from the main building, will hold 1,500 in the bleacher seats and 2,500 with chairs, Leveille said. The current auditorium seats 750 in a school of 1,400 students.

The new gym comes with a running track on the second floor, where runners will be able to observe what’s happening on the floor below.

It will also serve senior citizens looking for a safe place to walk.

The gym includes a health and fitness room for wrestling and dance, a weight room, and a trainer’s room with a therapy table. An elevator is available to take students and teachers to classrooms upstairs.

Parking is available outside of the gym, near new tennis courts, which are slated for temporary striping at the end of the month. They will be open to the public.

Pro Con started work last summer, excavating the football field and setting the groundwork for the gym. Construction began in earnest in October.

It was a challenge working outside this winter, when crews were doing masonry work.

"Every Monday, we had several inches of snow to shovel out," Nordaby said.

Pro Con has 71 people on the job. "This is pretty extensive for a school," he said.

Winnacunnet will have new roofing, new drainage, and will be a "clean" school, meaning free of asbestos, Nordaby said.

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