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Waterford - Much of the drop ceiling is still exposed and there are many empty classrooms, but fewer than six months remain until students at Waterford High School move into their new building.
On a tour of the building on Tuesday, school and town officials were able to see the progress.
The building exterior is complete, parking lots are paved and the classrooms have a definite shape and layout, but the floor needs carpeting and the furniture hasn't arrived.
Teachers and students expect to move into their new building after April vacation, and high school Principal Donald Macrino couldn't be happier.
"It's exciting to see us go into a new building. It starts a whole new era for Waterford High School," Macrino said before the tour. "So many things are changing in education, so this is good timing."
With growing emphasis on 21st-century skills and with the shift to Common Core State Standards, the high school plans to move to as few textbooks as possible, to the extent that it's practical, Macrino said. The high school math curriculum already is online only.
The $67 million construction project began in December 2010 and includes a 5,000-square-foot media center, a mezzanine-level skywalk that will connect a portion of the old high school to the new addition next door, and extensive technology upgrades.
When the new building opens, there will be three entrances for students: a car drop off, a bus drop off and a main entry.
First-floor classrooms will focus on technology education and include a woodshop and an auto shop. The media center, main office and principal's office also are on the first floor.
Second-floor classes are mostly English and social studies along with electives.
Third-floor classrooms are used mainly for science, mathematics and family and consumer science.
While students have endured two years of construction, their curiosity hasn't gotten the best of them. Access to the school is strictly limited and the only peeks of progress students have been able to see is from the outside.
"It's almost like being outside the gate at Disney World, but the gate is locked," Macrino said. "The students are very, very excited about it."