City and school leaders dedicated the completed second phase of construction at Platt High School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
The event was held in the school’s new cafeteria, which, with its floor-to-ceiling windows on one side, offered dramatic views of the Panther practice fields as well as the teams using them Tuesday.
Board of Education President Mark A. Hughes, a self-confessed “movie buff,” likened the experience of seeing the cafeteria for the first time to the experience of the actors in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” upon seeing the chocolate factory for the first time.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that famous scene where they walk into the chocolate world for lack of a better word — they didn’t let any of the actors, the kids or the adults, see that world before they walked in the door because they wanted the shot of them walking in and dropping their jaw, just that awe that they had,” Hughes said. “That was the thought that I had when I walked in this room. This is just absolutely an outstanding project so far, I’m in awe as I walk through the hallways.”
Construction on the second phase of the $111.8 million renovation of the school was largely finished before school started this fall. It entailed a new cafeteria and kitchen, weight and fit- ness rooms, locker rooms, classrooms, and two technical education rooms.
School Superintendent Mark D. Benigni thanked teachers and students for being flexible while construction has been ongoing.
“Whenever you go through a big renovation project, you always worry about disruptions and how are the students and the staff going to manage, and it’s a credit to the team here at Platt that they’ve done a great job of minimizing those disruptions and keeping our students on track, so thank you for that,” he said.
Platt Principal Robert Montemurro thanked the construction group, O&G Industries, Inc., as well as architectural firm Antinozzi Associates.
“This wouldn’t be possible without all your amazing work,” he said.
After thanking the City Council and Board of Education for the funding approval needed to do the high school reconstruction projects, School Building Committee Chairman Matthew C. Dominello also complimented the aesthetics of the school.
“We are now at the 60 percent mark of completed construction and are now really able to visualize what the total school will be like in less than two years,” Dominello said. “What we are doing here together as a community is not easy, but many worthwhile endeavors are often difficult.”
Meriden Mayor Manny Santos, a Republican, also spoke Tuesday, remarking that the high school’s namesake, former Sen. Orville H. Platt “was a Republican.”
“We are here with great gratitude for the construction workers and the school staff...it’s a great tribute to have this facility right here and we look forward to the next phase.”
“I can’t believe it’s time for another one of these again,” said David Cravanzola, project manager from the Torrington-based O&G Industries, Inc., of the ribbon-cutting.
Cravanzola said work has been progressing smoothly at the next phase of the school as well, and he hopes to pour the cement floor next week. Installing structural steel beams should begin the week of Oct. 12, he said.