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New Danvers high school slated for soft spring opening

Posted by Justin Rice  August 31, 2011 03:08 PM

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When Danvers High School students start school next week their surroundings won’t look nearly the same as when they finish the school year in June. And this year’s opening day on Wednesday will be nothing like it will be two years from now.

The first phase of the roughly $70.9 million high school renovation is slated to open this spring and the entire project is on track to be completed by September 2013. Last year, the entire high school moved into the complex's Dunn Wing, the district’s former middle school.

“There’s a lot that goes into moving a 1,000 students back over, but we did it a year ago last September when we moved from the part of the building being renovated to the Dunn Wing of the High School,” Danvers Superintendent Lisa Dana said in a phone interview yesterday. “Moving students takes a lot of teamwork and a lot of coordination between the school department, DPW, architects and construction contractors.

“By April things will be packed as far as the teaching supplies. The nice thing is we’re moving into a renovated building so we do not have to pick up everything in the Dunn Wing and move it over.”

The first renovated portion of the building will include a new science wing. The three-story science wing will face Cabot Road and feature nine classrooms.

As part of the second part of the renovation project, the Dunn Wing will be demolished before being replace by a new front entrance, four tech classrooms, a new cafeteria and new central offices that will include the district offices.

The Vye gymnasium will be a temporary cafeteria after the students move into the renovated part of the building in April and the old cafeteria will be used as art rooms.

But before the school department transitions into the newly renovated portion of the building during April vacation week, the high school will cut the ribbon on a new athletic field house this January.

All the new classrooms will also be equipped with new technology such as smart boards, new media and Internet.

“That’s what students use outside school,” Dana said of 21st century technologies. “There’s many different ways of learning with technology.”

Dana said some of the new technology has already been used at the middle school level and portable smart boards have been used in the highs school, “To get a core group of teachers using them so they can train the other teacher; teachers helping each other,” Dana said.

She said there are currently no plans to mandate every student to use a laptop in the classroom like the program Beverly High just adopted this year.

“We want to get the infrastructure into the high school first and then we’ll look at any other types of mobile technology for students,” Dana said.

The entire high school project faced a potential setback during Tropical Storm Irene this past weekend. But luckily the construction site was secured well enough to prevent any major damage.

"I was thinking we had this construction site and if a major storm comes through there could have been some cleanup needed,” Dana said. "But the storm didn’t hit the North Shore as hard as some other areas and things continue to keep moving forward.”

The high school is not the only thing new in the district this year. Danvers also welcomes 15 new teachers to the district due to attrition, Dana said. An orientation for the new teachers was held last Thursday.

“We’re ready to go,” Dana said.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.

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