Principal Jan Saam hosted the open house at the sparkling new high school building and I only got lost once.
The renovated-to-new Naugatuck High School was officially re-opened on Wednesday evening. The grand re-opening was held just in time for NHS alumni back in town for Thanksgiving to take a self-guided tour.
Following the brief ceremony that began promptly at 5:00pm in the newly remodeled and absolutely stunning Davis Auditorium, the public was allowed to tour the entire building. A fair amount of community members came out to see for themselves what the $81 million renovation project has done for the flagship school in the district. It was difficult to estimate the size of the crowd because they were spread out around the large campus. I technically only got lost once and had to go outside to find my way back to the theater, but I was glad that I did. As I re-entered the building via the main entrance, two Jr. ROTC members were opening the doors for visitors in a very official manner.
In her remarks, Principal/Construction Manager Jan Saam began by thanking her faculty, staff and students for their patience and kindness during the 30 month process of getting the building looking the way it does today. They have survived the dust, the noise and the odors and the principal hopes that the finished product was worth all of it. She went on to thank Superintendent Sharon Locke and Assistant Superintendent Christopher Montini for all of their support, the architects Kaestle Boos Associates (KBA) who served as the design team, and Mike Brennan of O & G. She also thanked Joe Vitro and Roger Johnson, two gentlemen who often “talked her off the ledge” when things got difficult.
Mrs. Saam reminded us that there would be some student guides strategically placed around the school for directions, and suggested that we visit the pool, a classroom or two, the gym, and the media center upstairs. She also reminded us to visit the lobby to view a video of the high school when it is filled with students made by high school student Olivier Civil, Rob Fazekas and Lauren Stankiewicz that was playing continuously. The building which is currently 95% complete, still needing some paint and some floor completion, and that does not include the Board of Education offices which are not yet ready for occupancy.
Mrs.Mrs. Locke said that she had the privilege of inheriting the renovation project and thanked the unflappable Mrs. Saam for making it happen. Board of Education chair Dorothy Neth-Kunin cited June 3, 2011 as the inception date of the project and remembered that in the referendum there was a 2 to 1 margin in favor of moving ahead with the renovate-to-new concept. She is pleased to be able to give the highest quality of education that district can offer to our students and she thanked the high school students for their patience during the completion of the construction.
Deputy Mayor Robert Neth, the chair of the building committee, called the space where he gave his remarks “a mini Palace.” He thanked O & G, Bob Butler and his staff, Mrs. Saam, the “main contractor,” and the rest of the building committee, including Ray Lennon, Kevin Knowles, Wayne McAllister, Cindy Herb, Charley Marenghi and Mrs. Saam.
N. Warren “Pete” Hess, the newly sworn-in mayor of Naugatuck, remembered the days when he walked the halls of NHS, until he graduated in 1966. He thanked Mayor Bob Mezzo and the building committee. He called this renovation of the high school, our flagship, the first step in the long-term plan for the school district to give every child the best education we can.