Superintendent of the Carneys Point-Penns Grove School District Dr. Joseph Massare, center, speaks during the dedication ceremony for the newly refurbished auditorium at Penns Grove High School
CARNEYS POINT TWP. - Brand new upgrades to the Penns Grove High School were on display for parents and the community Thursday evening, as school officials showed-off a fully refurbished auditorium, new science labs, and lighting improvements designed by Garrison Architects of Marlton.
An unveiling ceremony was held in the new auditorium, coinciding with the high school’s back-to-school night to give the community a first-hand look at the renovations.
“It’s for you the students. It’s for you the parents. It’s for you the community, that these facilities are here,” Superintendent Dr. Joseph Massare said during the ceremony.
He added, “We need this environment to allow us to be competitive like other schools to meet the demands of college and career readiness.”
The school’s auditorium was completely refurbished over the summer with new lights, theatrical rigging, air conditioning and paneling. New fabric covered seats were installed, and a new stage floor was put down.
A new sound system and electrical upgrades will also be installed.
The auditorium seats 799 people in 8,066-square-feet with a 2,088-square-foot stage. Before the recent upgrades, it hadn’t seen any major renovations since the high school opened in 1971.
The science labs were also completely re-done over the summer with new gas, plumbing and electric.
Improvements were made with a state Phase Two Regular Operating Districts (ROD) grant, which paid for 70-percent of the renovations. The other 30-percent of the cost was supported through the school’s budget.
The goal of the project, officials said, was to bring Penns Grove High School up-to-date to allow students a competitive educational experience, in order to prepare them for the modern world.
High school biology teacher Jeanne Herestofa said that the upgrades were “awesome,” and provided students with an environment in which they will want to learn.
The best improvement, she said, were in class sinks added to each lab, and additional power outlets at lab stations for students to plug in equipment and laptops.
“It looks like a science lab now,” said Herestofa. “I think when students feel good about the room their in, they’ll want to learn.”
Junior Kevin Shaw said he liked the room and was impressed with the improvements.
Shaw was touring the school with his mother, Valerie Shaw, who was also impressed with upgrades.
“I’m very impressed with this,” Valerie Shaw said as she looked around the science lab. “This is definitely a classroom I would want to learn in.”
New lighting in one of the school’s main hallways was also purchased with the Phase Two ROD grant.
During Phase One, the school used the grant funds to provide air conditioning for Layfayette-Pershing and Carleton schools, as well as parking lot improvements.
Massare said the district will 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.