Project kicks off at school

Sept 10, 2006

By By LAVINIA DeCASTRO Courier-Post Staff

Residents, elected officials, students and staff gathered at Collingswood High School Saturday morning to celebrate the start of a major construction project.

The district is building a media center that will connect the adjacent high school and middle school buildings.

"In a short time, we'll all be standing at this same location looking at a brand new facility we can all be proud of," the district's construction manager, Al Hird, said during the groundbreaking ceremony.

The 10,800-square-foot center will house new music rooms, classrooms and a television production studio, Superintendent James Bathurst said. The building will open its doors to students in 2008, he added.

Shovels stand at the ready at the groundbreaking ceremony attended by Superintendent of Schools James Bathurst
Superintendent of Schools James Bathurst speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for a media center that will connect the middle school and high school in Collingswood.
"I'm most thrilled to learn of the new library," high school English teacher Carol Vahlstrom said.

Currently, the high school and middle school have their own libraries that occupy a combined 3,600 square feet.

"They were classrooms that were made into libraries," Bathurst said.

"This is the most important thing that has been done in this community in 75 years," Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley Jr. said. "This is where the rubber meets the road."

Construction of the media center is just a part of a larger districtwide project, funded by a $20.1 million bond referendum and $13.7 million in state funds, and designed by Garrison Architects of Moorestown.

Work began this summer at Collingswood's five elementary schools.

Each school got a new heating and ventilation system, electrical upgrades and air conditioning.

"When the temperature rose in the building, many students had a hard time working at the same pace," said Mary Bezanis, Mark Newbie School principal.

A new elevator and wheelchair lift were also installed this summer at Newbie, which is now one of two handicap-accessible schools in Collingswood.

But the biggest changes will occur at the secondary level.

In addition to the media center, all of the high school's seven science labs will be upgraded and students are looking forward to using new equipment in the gym's weight room.

"Collingswood High School is going to be a state-of-the-art, convenient high school that everyone wishes they could attend," 10th-grader Jamie Diaz said.


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