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updated: 8/17/2011 3:43 PM

Grant High School construction completed in time for students

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Grant High School officials said students will see some renovated classrooms and more cafeteria space when they return for the new school year, starting Aug. 22.

District 124 Superintendent John Benedetti said the $6.5 million, summer-long renovation project at the school at Route 59 and Grand Avenue in Fox Lake will be completed by the time students arrive.

The very "ambitious" construction schedule included renovating the 1974 classroom wing, creating space in the kitchen and the cafeteria, and adding new bleachers and flooring in the gymnasiums, Benedetti said.

"It's been very hectic getting it completed," he said. "We started right after graduation day on May 28 and have been working hard to get it completed on time."

The most noticeable work expanded the commons to seat and serve more students, he said. Also, the east gym was rebuilt with new bleachers and a hardwood floor, while the floor of the west gym was sanded and stained.

Benedetti said air-conditioning was installed in the gymnasiums, making the entire facility air-conditioned except for the old wood shop classroom and a general storage area.

"We poured three new rooftops and added on 11 rooftop units in the latest round of renovation," he said. "With this final phase of construction, I would say 90 percent of the school is either new or has been renovated since the year 2000."

The project was designed to expand the "core" areas of the high school facing more student growth during the next five to 10 years, he said. The core of the school's facilities are now equipped to handle up to 2,400 students.

"The core areas, like the cafeteria, gymnasiums and library, is equipped to handle that amount of students," he said. "However, some classroom expansion may be needed to accommodate that total."

Studies conducted in 2008 show Grant could swell to more than 2,400 students within the next decade, Benedetti said. However, that figure could be slowed slightly due to the recent economy, he added.

"We'll still get there, but it could take longer than anticipated," he said. "Our six-day enrollment figures, though, will still show an increase of between 90 and 125 students, which remains on par with our enrollment report in 2008."

Last year, the high school had about 1,850 students.

Benedetti said the focus of construction will shift outside now, as the district will add landscaping to the facilities on Grand, Route 59, and the field house on Devlin Road.