CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Several hundred people attended Saturday afternoon's dedication ceremony for Chambersburg Area Senior High School's $73.8 million renovation project.
Before the self-guided tours began, a short dedication program was held in the school's auditorium.
"I am delighted to have a facility that will serve us for this generation, for another generation and possibly even beyond that," Chambersburg Area School Board President Norman Blowers said during the dedication program.
It was a 5-4 school board vote that set the wheels in motion to renovate the school, which was built in 1955, said Joseph Padasak, superintendent of the Chambersburg Area School District.
"We've been talking about renovating this facility for between 10 and 15 years, and it took a while to come to this consensus to build a facility like this," Padasak said.
It took one year and 30 architects, working full time, just to design the facility and another three years to build the structure, he said.
Kevin Weller, the school's construction projects manager, said Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates of Mechanicsburg, Pa., started designing the facility in January 2007 and work began in April 2008.
Once the project was completed, Weller said 309,000 square feet were added to the school, including a fieldhouse, 12,000-square-foot library, 20,000-square-foot cafeteria/food court, 20,000-square-foot music/arts wing, a renovated auditorium and a new student services addition.
Principal Barry Purvis said with the changes to the high school, four grade levels can be housed in one facility.
Now, 1,800 students in grades 10 to 12 occupy the high school. But Purvis said beginning in the 2011-12 school year, ninth-graders also will go to the high school, bringing the total number of students to between 2,400 and 2,500.
"The school itself is great. It's huge. It has plenty of space to move around," Purvis said. "There is up-to-date technology in the classrooms. It's very flexible. You can do a lot of things with the space. The library is much, much better than what it was."
CASHS senior Caysie Myers helped visitors navigate through the massive high school during Saturday's tour.
"It is very different, but it's really nice," Myers said. "The halls are just much bigger. It's just much more accommodating for the students."
Before the renovations, she said the school was congested with students and the stairwells were packed with students trying to get to their classes.
For Gary Hawbecker, returning to his alma mater was a walk down memory lane.
"It's really nice. There's plenty of room," said Hawbecker, who graduated in the late 1950s.
He and his wife Janet's three children graduated from CASHS in the late 1980s.
Even though his taxes went up to help pay for the new building, Hawbecker said it was worth the investment.
"The town is getting bigger," he said. "It's needed with the growth in the town."
"It's always hard to have to pay more, but you have to do the jump some time," Janet Hawbecker said.
Clark Mathna of Chambersburg took the tour to see how his tax money was being spent.
"It's our tax dollars," Clark said. "You have to wonder sometimes if it was all necessary, and yet at the same time you do want the kids to get a good education. It isn't the building that gives them a good education."
His wife, Mary, said since their children are grown this might be her only chance to peek inside the school.
"It's awful big," said Mary Mathna, a 1973 CASHS graduate.