Two students wielding sledge hammers Friday helped “break ground” for construction of a $1.95 million renovation project at Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School.
Juniors Jeff Treu and Keegan Shanahan donned hard hats and punched holes in an old gypsum board wall inside what will become the school’s new innovation center.
“It felt good,” Treu said of the ceremonial bashing.
The project will make use of unused space, including a former home economics room, transforming it into a hub for collaborative and interdisciplinary learning, officials said.
The nearly 10,000-square-foot innovation center, designed with student input, will be located in the center of the academic wing. School officials said the space has been designed for a team atmosphere, with furniture and technology that is movable so that it can be easily rearranged.
Dorothy Ostrowski, Gross High School’s president, speaking at the ceremony, called the project “hugely important.”
It is the first phase of a series of planned upgrades to the academic wing, officials said.
“When school opens in the fall, I hope, we will be ready to open the doors to a brand-new, state-of-the-art, cool and modern innovation center,” she said.
The project is scheduled for completion in mid-August, before the start of the 2021-22 school year.
Treu and Shanahan attended design meetings and provided the architects with students’ perspective on the center’s design. Both students said they expect to be making use of the center next year.
Students provided input on everything from colors and finishes to furniture and how to configure the space, said Matt Krause, partner in the architectural firm Carlson West Povondra.
The students said they encouraged the architects to provide space for large presentations.
“It’s definitely very open now,” Krause said, and will provide flexibility for large presentations but also smaller group work.
Students will have access to drop-down electrical outlets, Wi-Fi, mobile TVs they can reposition and extensive marker boards.