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New school on Cornell Intermediate's ground to get new name

Vertullo | Daily News - Construction crews establish a foundation and infrastructure on the school site along Cornell Street in McKeesport. Jennifer R.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>Construction crews establish a foundation and infrastructure on the school site along Cornell Street in McKeesport. Jennifer R.
Vertullo | Daily News - McKeesport Area director of buildings and grounds Ed Fagan and superintendent Timothy Gabauer review schematics for the district's new elementary/intermediate school on the former Cornell site. Jennifer R.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>McKeesport Area director of buildings and grounds Ed Fagan and superintendent Timothy Gabauer review schematics for the district's new elementary/intermediate school on the former Cornell site. Jennifer R.

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By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, 3:46 a.m.
 

With steel beams arriving for a new school on the former Cornell Intermediate site, McKeesport Area officials are seeking suggestions for the building's name.

“Some people believe Cornell is a name that has meaning and history, and it should stay,” superintendent Timothy Gabauer said. “Others feel the new school will be a new start — a revitalization of the K-6 program in our district — and with that should come a new name.”

The school most McKeesporters know as Cornell was constructed in 1916 as Technical High School, located along Cornell Street between Bailie and Spring avenues.

In 1961, when a new senior high opened for sophomores, juniors and seniors, Tech High became McKeesport Junior High School.

In 1979, the school became Cornell Middle School for fifth- through eighth-graders. And in 2000-2001, it changed to Cornell Intermediate School as the student body shifted again to include fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

The Cornell building was demolished in the summer of 2010 as the district made way for a three-building elementary/intermediate construction plan that would provide state-of-the-art facilities. The plan since has been revised for students in kindergarten through fifth grade to attend the remodeled Francis McClure and new Cornell, and for sixth-graders to have their own academy in a new wing of Founders Hall.

“Just as they do now at Francis McClure, students in the new school will share common spaces but operate on different bell schedules,” Gabauer said.

Ground was broken at the Cornell site on Feb. 9, and crews have been on site moving earth to set the foundation and infrastructure. The district is working toward silver status in LEED certification for green building practices.

“The LEED process started as soon as we put the first shovel in the ground,” McKeesport Area director of buildings and grounds Ed Fagan said. “This building will be more user-friendly and environmentally friendly.”

From the inspection of soil and rock movement to the installation of a geothermal system that will be the primary source of heat for the school, construction is following a strict set of sustainability guidelines.

Today, crews continue to dig wells for the geothermal system, and the next step will be to erect a steel framework of the building that by December 2013 will be a 127,210-square-foot structure fit to host the education of approximately 800 students.

“There's been so much work to get that site ready, but once we see that steel, it's going to be exciting,” Gabauer said. “What we've talked about, heard about and thought about is going to become real.”

The realization of that vision, Gabauer said, might help the public generate creative ideas for the school's name.

To offer a suggestion, entry forms are available at the district administration building, 3590 O'Neil Blvd., McKeesport, or online at www.mckasd.net.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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