BELDING — A mild winter with little snow has helped workers make up for lost time on construction of the new gymnasium and auditorium at Belding High School.
“We’ve had the best possible winter weather you can ask for,” Superintendent Leslie Mount said. “The construction crews have been able to do a lot of work they didn’t anticipate.”
The construction of a new gymnasium and auditorium is part of the $38.8 million bond levy that voters approved in 2010.
“Construction started a little bit behind on the gym and auditorium last year,” Mount said. “We are looking at a start of school opening for the gym this fall and probably an October opening for the auditorium. Then you are going to see the major work inside the high school start, as well as work at Ellis (elementary school).
High School Principal Brett Zuver said the change in scenery has been constant, but students are coping with the everyday construction.
“The construction has been smooth and the students are fine,” Zuver said. “There have been some small issues, but nothing terrible this year, just a lot more noise than anything.”
Zuver expects this year’s construction to help prepare students and staff for much more invasive construction work, which will begin next school year.
Next summer the main high school building will undergo a major overhaul, as the existing auditorium will be transformed into a new welcome center, main office and expanded student commons area.
The current main office area will be reconstructed into a main hallway through the high school, going from the west side of the building (the current main entrance) to the east (where the main entrance for the new gym and auditorium will be).
“This is kind of a warm up for next year,” he said. “Next year will be much more intrusive with what’s being done with the front entrance to our building, the offices and the food-commons area. We will feel more of the interruption as a staff and student body next year.”
Zuver said he’s given a number of tours of the new construction and said with every week he is more and more impressed with what is going on at the high school.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Things haven’t changed much on the outside because it’s been covered up for the (winter) elements, but inside it seems like there is new walls and detail work being done all the time. In the auditorium area, even some of the final detail wall brick is up. It’s really starting to shape up.”
Athletic Director Joel Wilker said he’s anxious to see the final product, waiting for construction to finish.
“It’s just awesome, we wish it could go faster, but obviously you want the construction workers to do the job right,” he said. “It’s just exciting every week to walk through the new gym and auditorium. We look forward to getting it done.”
The high school work is slated to be complete in January 2013.