A work in progress

Renovations continue at NHS

Naugatuck High School Principal Janice Saam, center, talks about the work being done in the pool area of Naugatuck High School during a tour of the ongoing renovations Dec. 14. From left, Burgess Rocky Vitale, Board of Education Vice Chairman Dorothy Neth-Kunin, Burgess Michael Bronko, O&G Industries Vice President Michael Brennan, O&G Industries Project Manager Joe Vetro and Tax Collector Jim Goggin listen. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck High School Principal Janice Saam, center, talks about the work being done in the pool area of Naugatuck High School during a tour of the ongoing renovations Dec. 14. From left, Burgess Rocky Vitale, Board of Education Vice Chairman Dorothy Neth-Kunin, Burgess Michael Bronko, O&G Industries Vice President Michael Brennan, O&G Industries Project Manager Joe Vetro and Tax Collector Jim Goggin listen. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — As Naugatuck High School students take a break for the holidays, the $81 million renovation project at the school forges ahead.

On Dec. 14 Naugatuck High School Principal Janice Saam, along with representatives of O&G Industries and Kaestle Boos Associates Inc., led a tour of the school to update borough officials on the project’s progress.

The tour highlighted some of the work that had taken place in the gym, the pool and classrooms this year. The 30-month project broke ground in April.

Work on classrooms so far has focused on the Goodyear wing of the building. Each department now has a different office area that teachers can use.

“Teachers can come in here on their off periods, they can bring students in here, they can meet in here during their common department time,” Saam said.

Saam said the rooms will be set up with a projector for presentations so teachers can work on curriculum development or host professional days.

Board of Education Vice Chairman Dorothy Neth-Kunin questioned why the rooms were divided by department.

“We’re always looking for space,” Saam said. “Teachers need to get together, they need to collaborate, they need to work. … We just didn’t have a really good space. So every department will have this, a place where that department can gather and do work.”

Every classroom will have an accent color wall that will match a designated color of the

hallways and doors in that department so that it will be easy for students, staff and visitors to tell what department they are in, Saam said.

When the students are allowed back into the Goodyear wing, some of the classrooms will be the same, such as the four science classrooms that have been untouched except for technological upgrades.

However, most of the rooms will have been renovated. The Goodyear Lecture Hall, which used to have a slanted floor and auditorium seating, has been split into two regular classrooms.

Once the classrooms are finished they will be approximately 400 square feet and hold between 25 and 30 desks, Saam said.

“Every classroom is going to have what’s called a teaching wall, which will have the paint that you can write on and you can project on. It will be interactive,” Saam said.

In addition to regular classrooms, the newly renovated world language department will have a new classroom with 30 computers in it so students can practice their language skills by talking to the teacher or each other on headsets. The conversations can be recorded to go back over and make improvements.

This will allow the students to receive the level of assistance that they need, Saam said. Students will also be able to communicate with someone in a different country, who speaks the language they’re studying, she added.

“What can happen in this lab is really off the charts,” Saam said.

The school currently offers French, Spanish, and Italian. Saam hopes to add other languages, such as Arabic and Mandarin, if she is able to have the staff to do so.

Temporary classrooms have been set up in the media center for displaced classes. Once the temporary classrooms are removed the media center will also be renovated, Saam said.

“It’s going to look nothing like this when it’s done,” Saam said standing in the media center. “It’s actually going to have a little café area in it, like a Barnes & Nobles, with the high top tables and chairs, for kids who are staying late and want to have a little snack. There’s going to be classrooms built in where teachers can come and do small groups. The classrooms will be able to expand by a dividing wall you can open up.”

Work on the media center will occur towards the end of the project.

“There will not be any major differences after the students come back from their winter break. The big change will happen sometime mid to end of January. It will happen over a weekend. So they’ll go home on a Friday and then they’ll come back on Monday to new rooms.” –Janice Saam

The athletic facilities are also being revamped as part of the project. The school’s new athletic turf field was unveiled this fall. Currently, the pool is being worked on.

Saam hopes to have the pool in use for practice shortly after Christmas.

The school will not be hosting any home swim meets this year due to work in the pool area, Saam said. The work includes a new seating area and new bathrooms.

Once it’s finished, the seating area will be accessible via stairs and an elevator. Spectators will no longer walk through the pool area to get to their seats. There will be four flat screen televisions in the seating area that will show what is going on in the pool and the scoreboards. That way if anyone has a slightly obstructed view in the bleachers they won’t miss any of the action.

The weight room will be moved from the basement under the gym to a room that is adjacent to the gym, Saam said. It will include an office for either the teacher or coach overseeing weightlifting.

Saam said the area that is now an entryway to the two gyms will be completely refurbished and include a built-in concession stand, lobby and a café area.

“This won’t look anything like it does now,” Saam said of the area.

It won’t be just students who notice the changes to the building. The entire front entryway of the building is slated to be renovated.

By the end of January visitors to the high school will have to enter the building through the main offices, which will be closer to the front of the building than they are now.

Visitors will enter an outside door into a vestibule before entering the school. For safety reasons, the receptionist will be behind a bulletproof window and the walls of the vestibule will contain bulletproof metal, Saam said.

“There’s all kind of levels with bullet resistant materials, and this is one of the highest levels it can be,” O&G Project Manager Joe Vetro said.

Saam said the next phase of the project will focus on the Castle wing of the building and begin in the middle or end of January. The castle wing contains primarily math classes and some administrator offices.

Classes held in that wing will be moved to the temporary classrooms. The classes that were being held in the temporary rooms will move back to the new classrooms in the Goodyear wing. 

“There will not be any major differences after the students come back from their winter break. The big change will happen sometime mid to end of January. It will happen over a weekend. So they’ll go home on a Friday and then they’ll come back on Monday to new rooms,” Saam said.

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