Community can tour high school next week

The community can walk the halls of the old Fruitport High School a final time Dec. 11. The 1950s portion of the building will be demolished in the coming months.

FRUITPORT — The community has a final opportunity to walk the hallways of the current Fruitport High School.

From 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, the community is welcome to walk the hallways that were built in the 1950s and will soon be demolished. Residents will also be able to visit the new varsity locker room, a refurbished weight room, and new art and drafting rooms.

After the community toured the new high school building in October, many expressed an interest in walking their old high school a final time, Fruitport Community Schools Superintendent Bob Szymoniak said.

Fruitport High School Principal Lauren Chesney said they’re looking forward to alumni visiting.

“This is such an exciting project, but there is a lot of history in this old building,” she said.

Chesney started as a student in the district in 1977 and later returned to start her professional career there. Chesney said she loves what the district offers, and she’s elated to share the space with the community.

Demolition of the 1950s portion of the high school is slated to begin late this month while the schools are on winter break. With the initial demolition being done to the interior, Szymoniak said that, depending on weather, it likely won’t be until late January and into February before walls come down.

“Once demolition is complete, footings will be poured for the locker commons, offices and media center,” he said. “Then, in front of those spaces will be much needed parking lots.”

With work underway to prepare the building for staff and students to start Jan. 6, the district was unable to open the new building to the public on Dec. 11. Chesney said they plan to give staff and students a peak at it prior to winter break.

“We are very excited to unveil this next phase,” she said.

Since March 2018, some of the work accomplished is construction of the two-story building, renovation of classrooms in the 1998 addition and a new bus loop.

The new building was designed with the future and safety in mind. Its curved hallways are to limit the line of site for safety, and the classrooms are also designed to limit the view into them.

Currently, the work and the budget remain on target. The project is expected to cost about $48 million, and the overall bond is $52 million.

The district plans to hold another open house for the community in the spring. At that time, the work on the new auditorium should be far enough along to give residents an idea of what it will look like when it’s completed in August 2020, Szymoniak said.

Remaining work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021.

As construction continues, Szymoniak said he appreciates staff, students, parents and community being flexibly throughout the project. He said there will be challenges along the way, but “it will be worth it in the end.”

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