Penns Grove High School gets facelift during summer break

Published: Saturday, August 25, 2012
Written bySharron Sparks Boyle for Today's Sunbeam



Dr. Joseph A. Massare, the superintendent of schools in Penns Grove-Carneys Point watched as the construction team renovated one of the science classrooms at Penns Grove High School.

CARNEYS POINT TWP. - It will be a lot brighter for Penns Grove High School students when the new school year begins after Labor Day.

New lighting in the main hallway of the high school brightens the way to a completely refurbished auditorium and new science labs. Lighting has also been upgraded in the gymnasium.

Interim Principal Joseph Sottosanti said that the major renovations began toward the end of the school year in the auditorium and over the summer in the science labs.

“It was a major undertaking,” he said. “The entire auditorium was gutted from the stage floor to the ceiling. During the summer, the floors of the science labs were torn up. Workers excavated down three feet to run the new plumbing and gas lines.”

The science labs are almost finished, Sottosanti said during a late August tour of the building.

He added that when the students enter the auditorium in September they will find new lighting, a new sound system, theatrical rigging, new air conditioning, and paneling.

“The auditorium has become a state-of-the-art facility with new fabric covered seats and even a new stage floor,” he said.

The Penns Grove High School auditorium is being updated and renovated.

Assistant Principal Glen Asch said that the only thing left about the old auditorium is the curtains.

According to Mary Martyniak, secretary for Sottosanti, Penns Grove High School opened in January 1971. This is the first major renovation of the auditorium that seats 799. The auditorium is 8,066-square-feet with a 2,088-square-foot stage.

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Massare explained that the renovations completed over the summer were made possible with funding from Phase Two of a ROD grant.

“The grant is designated for school facilities projects in Regular Operating Districts (ROD) from the NJ Department of Labor and is allocated to the most critical and educationally responsive projects,” Massare explained.

He added that 70 percent of the costs were covered by the grant that also takes into account student enrollment and socio-economic background.  

Massare explained that the renovations at the high school over the summer were phase two of the grant.  All three phases were designed by Garrison Architects of Marlton. 

“During Phase One the district was able to provide air conditioning for Layfayette-Pershing and Carleton schools. We were also able to improve the parking lots at those schools. Telephones were also installed for teachers in the classrooms at the high school,” he said.

He continued that the district will be also apply for Phase Three of the grant to help with much-needed repairs at the middle school, as well as with electrical work and air conditioning.

Rich Bushby, of Newport Construction, has been overseeing the work at the school since the project began.

“Our goal is to be completely finished by Aug. 31,” he said. “Today we have 10
electricians, three plumbers, and five carpenters working. The paneling is going up now
in the auditorium. The floor guys will come and finish after that.

“It was a total demolition project. We removed the old flooring the ceiling, seats and stage floor and put back together with all new materials,” Bushby added.

Massare said that he is excited that the school now has state-of-the-art science labs and a new facility for performances and events.  

“I think our students are going to be very happy with these renovations,” he said.


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