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Multi-million dollar high school renovation accelerated amid remote learning

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    GALESBURG, IL (WQAD) — Construction crews are taking on what used to be the boy’s bathroom, breaking everything down as part of the $42.5 Million renovation project at Galesburg High School.

“I’ve been here a long time and have seen a lot of change, but the building hasn’t changed,” Principal Jeff Houston says. “It’s time.”

It’s about a 70-year-old building, which students haven’t seen since March. But at the start of the next school year, the high school will have a brand new look.

“Every classroom will be touched,” Assistant Superintendent of Finances and Operations Jennifer Hamm says. “Every learning environment will be touched in this building.”

In the last few months, the old cafeteria has been transformed into this servery. Next, a new commons will be built where students will eat and study, partially in place of what’s now the auditorium, which administrators say is too large.

“We’re downsizing the auditorium to a 680 seat auditorium,” Hamm says. “We’re going to have a new band and choir room adjacent to that so it’s easy access to the stage.”

Outdated chalkboards will soon make way for whiteboards, and old floors, windows, and lockers will be gone too. A new addition will also make room for seventh and eighth graders, fitting about 600 more students into the building, which would have about 1,200 students learning there in a normal year. The vocational center will also be moved across the street to a new and improved space.

“It’s gonna be exciting and new to return to pretty much a brand new school,” Houston says.

District administrators say remote learning in 2020 has helped keep construction moving right along.

“Crews would’ve had to do some of the work over the summer that they’re able to accomplish now,” Houston says. “It’s going be more conducive to getting us back in a timely matter.”

District administrators say they expect most of the project to be complete by next fall. And by next winter, they anticipate the new auditorium, band and choir room to be finished. Then, district administrators will work out when to move the seventh and eighth graders into the building, by the 2022-2023 school year.

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