City and school officials gathered outside the newly renovated pool at Platt High School Wednesday to sign and raise a ceremonial steel beam marking the official start of the second phase of construction at the high school.
“This is amazing; I’ve really never been part of something like this,” school Principal Robert Montemurro said as the beam was secured into place over what will become the school’s new cafeteria and kitchen.
Raising the one-ton beam symbolized the start of a new 50,000 square-foot wing at the school. The wing also includes the vocational education labs, such as an auto shop and a wood shop; as well as athletic offices and locker rooms.
The cement foundation for the new wing has already been poured, making its curving footprint easily visible.
Demolition of a building section began early last month and was continuing Wednesday.
Backhoes could be seen scooping out whole sections of the old wing, which will be replaced with new construction.
“There are a lot of exciting things going on outside of the windows here, and I commend the faculty and staff for keeping students on track,” School Superintendent Mark D. Benigni said at the ceremony.
The new wing is scheduled to be complete for the start of the 2015-16 school year, though delays in the first phase of construction pushed the start date for the second phase of the work back by a few weeks.
“It’ll be a push,” Project Manager David Cravanzola said. Cravanzola works for Torrington-based O&G Industries, Inc., the company responsible for the $111.8 million renovation project.
“A year ago we were out front breaking ground on this project, and here we are, a year later, with 70,000 square feet of new classroom space complete and 50,000 (square feet) underway,” Cravanzola said.
The steel beam, painted white and signed by dozens of school staff and city officials, was raised slowly into place facing the track during the ceremony. Cravanzola explained that typically projects have a “topping-off ceremony,” following an old Scandinavian tradition of placing an evergreen tree on the tallest beam of the project and hoisting it into place for good luck.
Since the tallest point of the new high school won’t be constructed until the third phase of the project — scheduled to span July 2015 to the fall of 2016 — Cravanzola said Wednesday’s ceremony was to officially mark the beginning of new construction. The beam that was signed and painted was chosen because of its visibility throughout the project from sports fields behind the school.
Local and state officials including newly re-elected state Rep. Catherine Abercrombie, Mayor Manny Santos, city councilors, Board of Education members, School Building Committee members, central office staff, and school staff signed the beam and watched it swing into place.
Story courtesy of the Meriden Record Journal. You can read the original story on myrecordjournal.com.