HARVARD – It's been more than 20 years since Harvard High School received substantial work and nearly a century since it was built.
So, yes, District 50 officials are excited to be closing in on the second phase of a major sprucing up of the place.
"It's very much needed – the original part of the building was constructed in 1921, and then it had additions in 1955 and 1993," said Steve Miller, the district's director of facilities. "So yeah, the older section of the building really did need some updating."
Update it, they have. Contractors started last year building 10 new classrooms, which opened by Christmas break.
They did the exterior of the kitchen last summer, and completed the interior throughout the school year. Equipment was installed in the spring.
"That was a new addition to the building," Miller said. "It's completed and ready to go when the kids come back in September."
The old kitchen is being demolished and rebuilt as cafeteria space, expanding seating and adding a "senior cafe" that will incorporate "restaurant-style" seating, Miller said.
Crews also will build a fitness center with cardio equipment and an area for yoga, and redo the administrative area.
The high school also will get installed a secure entrance, along with four other schools in the district this summer.
In the new entrance, a first set of doors will open into a small atrium where guests can speak with school staff through a video screen before being buzzed through a second set of locked doors. The district's fifth school, Richard D. Crosby Elementary, already has a secure entrance.
Additionally, both the high school and Jefferson School are getting new HVAC systems.
The high school's upgrades have been a long time coming. The school was the district's only building not to feel relief from a $22 million referendum in 2008, which allowed the district to build Crosby school and drop a grade level at the others to create space.
But that referendum was leveraged for a $13.8 million grant, which officials are using to complete the high school renovations.
So far, the completed projects have gone over well with students, Miller said.
"They've been very good," he said. "The modern rooms are very nice."