Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New School, Unfinished Business

Well, we got the opportunity to see the new Middletown High School late this afternoon and the jury is out. Starting out in the library, still unfinished, one can't help but be impressed by the height of the ceiling and the lack of books. The original carpet had to be replaced and the new one was just installed last week.

As we toured around the building, led by 2 rising seniors (who knew as much about the building as we did - more about that later), one had to wonder how classes were going to start on time. So much still needs to be done, installed, moved in or cleaned out. The pool area, unavailable for viewing, is scheduled to be ready on Opening Day (September 4) but not the auditorium. The 800-seat auditorium, still under construction, has a stage that is the same size as the one in the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford. There is also a television studio, a"black box" theater for smaller productions, a design studio, and dressing rooms.

The gymnasium and weight rooms look quite good (although a design glitch actually decreases the number of seats available for basketball games.) We were not allowed admittance to the dressing rooms. We also did not see the music "wing" but were told that band members would have their own lockers so they would not have to tote their instruments to classes.

The VoAg section looked much more complete and the language lab on the second floor are ready and waiting. From what we were allowed to see, the science wing (the 3rd floor) also looked ready. There are computers all around the school and every room is wired. Projection units hung from the ceiling (see below) will allow teachers to work with images directly from their computers.

In many ways, the school is very exciting and, compared to the cramped conditions and technologically deficient conditions of the old MHS, the new building is the Taj Mahal. There are some oddities (besides the gymnasium seating issue), such as the fact the student entrance area (on the north side) looks quite small. Still, the stairways are quite spacious. That said, it would be interesting to tour the building at the end of its first year and hear about it through the eyes of the students and faculty. The students who took our group around had little or no knowledge of the building other than what was written on the sheet handed to them 5 minutes before they started the tour.

Our understanding is that the tours will also be conducted this Thursday (August 21) from 9 -11 a.m.and again from 6 - 7:30 p.m. To be sure about the tour schedule, call 704-4500

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