City, state and school officials stood under a tent on the front lawn of Platt High School touting the team effort it took to get to Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony. The team, which also consisted of Platt staff, students, and others, even brought a cheerleading squad of state Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-Meriden, and City Councilor Cathy Battista who wielded pom-poms and led the crowd in a cheer.
“When we were graduating in 1968 we were complaining about the school, so to me it’s bittersweet and it’s awesome,” Battista told the crowd, sporting a Platt letterman’s jacket and tassels of the school colors in her hair.
The event was a celebratory ceremony for the $111.8 million renovation the school is about to undergo. The area at the corner of Oregon Road and Coe Avenue has already been fenced off in preparation. Across the street in a lot that was formerly the skate park, another area has been fenced off as a staging area for construction crews.
Project plans, similar to those at Maloney High School, call for renovated “like new” interiors and exteriors and a new wing that will include a library, cafeteria, and other features. The Platt project is expected to take four years and has been designed by Antinozzi Associates. O&G Industries, a Torrington-based firm, is the construction manager.
Though the need for renovations were questioned by some, state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo spoke about the importance of the project.
“Some people have told me they learned in a one-room school house,” Bartolomeo said. “We are in a day and age right now that is very, very different ... If technology is moving so quickly that these buildings that are 57 years old cannot be retrofitted for today’s technology, then that is a problem.”
During a groundbreaking ceremony for the Maloney project in June, many local officials proudly supported their alma mater. Santiago, a 1973 Platt graduate, said it was the west side’s turn to celebrate.
“When I came on the City council ... there was no question about it. We needed to give both schools a face lift,” she said. “We needed to get them ready for the 21st century so our kids don’t lag behind.”
Deputy Mayor Matthew C. Dominello, who heads the School Building Committee, added that he was proud the city is showing its support for education.
School Superintendent Mark D. Benigni applauded the teamwork in securing funding, designing the building, gaining the necessary approvals and now following through with construction.
“We’ll finally have a facility that can keep pace with our students, or at least try to keep pace with our students, because our students amaze us each day in how they embrace technology,” said Benigni, a 1989 Platt graduate. “Students today are doing so much more than I was expected to do when I walked through these same halls.”