Naperville Central students returned to classes Wednesday and for many it marked the second consecutive year they found themselves in a new-look high school.
Only a few punchlist-type items remain to be completed as part of the two-year, $88.7 million addition and renovation of the school. New this year is the expanded main entrance off Aurora Avenue and renovations to the art, auto shop, wood shop and horticulture classrooms.
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"I've only been in the building a few minutes and I can already tell you it's a change for the better," senior Marc McCormack said. "I've been here before and after the renovations and this just has a bright, fresh feel to it that should be an improved learning environment."
Sophomores Wesley Lo and Vanitha Raguveer agreed the two years of construction dust, noise and rerouting was worth it.
"This is going to eliminate all of the human traffic jams that caused so many problems," Lo said, standing just around the corner from the new entrance. "That tight fit caused so many fights and shoving matches, but I don't see that happening now."
Those new, big halls were slightly intimidating to some students, though. Freshmen Mariel Singson and Katie Lamich got to school early to compare classes and navigate the halls.
"It's a little scary but it'll be OK," Singson said.
Principal Bill Wiesbrook said watching the students enter the building and take in the new changes brought about two emotions.
"First is relief that a huge renovation is done, the workers and equipment are mostly out of here and our students finally have access to everything in their school," he said. "Second, I feel it's terrific. I've always felt we were a top-notch school with a below-average facility. Now the facility matches who we are."
Last August students were met with a new south entrance, infrastructure upgrades, a new learning resource center, new athletic and music space, and synthetic turf on its football field.