New O C High School nearing completion


June 18, 2004 By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6712, E-Mail

OCEAN CITY - The construction site at the new $40 million high school, designed by Garrison Architects, was like a termite mound, abuzz with the sounds of hammers, drills and heavy equipment.

Workers were busy Thursday in every corner of the school. Landscapers graded dirt at the front entrance and planted shrubs. Nearby, electricians installed decorative globe lights identical to those in front of City Hall. The school, designed by architect Robert Garrison, is distinguished by its gold dome and redbrick facade.

In the ground-floor hallways, workers laid terrazzo tile the size of dining room tables. In the auditorium, more electricians worked from a crane high above the stage.

"I'm happy. I'm pleased," Superintendent Donald Dearborn said. "We finally have a facility that complements our district and allows us to offer a 21st century educational program."

Dearborn said he is confident the school will be ready to open Sept. 8.

But much work remains. Both gymnasiums await new wood floors. The auditorium is bare, too. By September, it will have 748 theater seats.

Dozens of classroom doors lay in a stack in the cafeteria, waiting to be hung. Most of the 50 classrooms are complete except for a thorough cleaning. But the ground-floor hallways still need tile and the front entrance is missing its brickwork OCHS.

All of the furniture, computers and equipment must be moved, including thousands of books from the old library.

Dearborn peeled back the protective plastic sheeting at room entrances and picked his way nimbly through the maze of construction debris to a central courtyard, which is finished save for some landscaping.

The new high school will offer classrooms tailored for specific purposes: computer-aided design, world languages, science labs and woodshop.

The school also has a television studio, a school store, a weight room, school board offices and a cafeteria that overlooks Carey Field and the city's oceanfront. Carey Field will be lighted for the first time. The Red Raiders will be able to host night football games this season, Dearborn said.

The classrooms are wired for technology and provide wireless Internet access.

Once the new school is open, the old school will be demolished. Dearborn said the district likely will hold a public auction to sell the school's furnishings or equipment that can't be used in the other schools.

"With the compliments we're receiving, people say it looks like a school," Dearborn said.


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