Work Continues At Winnacunnet

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, August 19, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON -- When school opens in a week and a half for students, it may not be pretty but it will be ready to open says Winnacunnet School Board Chairman Susan Kepner.

The construction firm Pro Con, is working day and night, with 120 employees, trying to get the building in shape before school starts.

(Photo left:) Winnacunnet High School renovations are ongoing as the school’s first day fast approaches. The project is set for completion in March. [Photo by Amy Root-Donle]

Seacoast School of Technology students return on Monday, Aug. 29; freshmen and other new students on Aug. 30; and all students on Aug. 31.

Desks and chairs are being moved back into the classrooms. Walls are being painted and the new roof is almost completed.

"People need to understand that the construction is ongoing," said Kepner. "It was never supposed to look finished. It will be safe and there will be learning going on and each day it will look better."

Kepner, along with Superintendent James Gaylord and Principal Randy Zito, took The Hampton Union on a tour of the building on Wednesday.

The school is inspected by the Fire Department and the building inspector on a routine basis and everything is almost ready to open.

"We wouldn’t be able to open if they thought the building was unsafe," said Kepner.

Zito said the new entrance on Winnacunnet Road, which will only be for students with cars and parents dropping and picking up, will be ready on the first day of school.

The Alumni Drive entrance, which is now only for buses and teachers, will also be cleared and ready to go.

A police officer will be on duty at the intersection of Winnacunnet Road for the first couple of days of school.

Pro Con project manager Jim Drugg said the 25-classroom addition is on schedule and will be completed by December.

Since the new science and math wing is still under construction, not every student will have a locker.

"We will issue every freshman a locker and offer lockers to sophomores and juniors," said Zito. "Seniors may be without lockers during the first few months of the school year."

[Photo by Amy Root-Donle]

While the new cafeteria, which is the old gym, is ready to go, Zito said they will not be able to have hot lunches for the first couple of weeks of school.

Director of food services Trish Simas said they will have a few cold items to be sold during breakfast and lunch.

Those receiving free or reduced priced meals will have the following options: cereal with milk, granola bar with milk or a yogurt with milk or fruit juice.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will be available for lunch.

Several hallways will not have tile covering the ceilings when student return.

"The original plan was to always have the ceiling out in the corridors because we will be doing work until March," said Drugg.

The new performing arts center, which is the old cafeteria, will be ready by November.

"This new area will have separate band and choral rooms, an electronic room equipped with the latest technology, and a new television studio where our media classes will be taught," Zito said.

Construction will continue in that section but the area will be blocked off from students. The work will be performed when school is not in session.

In the meantime, band and chorus will be held where they are currently being held.

Kepner said the project is still on track to be completed by March.

Zito said when the project is finished trailers will no longer be used for classrooms and offices, and the school will have renovated more than 30 classrooms and moved into 30 new classrooms.
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