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Excitement, anticipation surround CV groundbreaking

| Thursday, June 2, 2016, 11:12 a.m.
Participating in the Chartiers Valley groundbreaking May 31 were, from left, Frank Brown, Chartiers Valley Federation of Teachers union president; school board member Julie Murphy, fifth-grader Jocelyn Jameson, seventh-grader Kohlton Corchado, kindergartner Christiana Lewis, school board member Mark Kuczinski and school board Vice President Jamie Stevenson.
Participating in the Chartiers Valley groundbreaking May 31 were, from left, Frank Brown, Chartiers Valley Federation of Teachers union president; school board member Julie Murphy, fifth-grader Jocelyn Jameson, seventh-grader Kohlton Corchado, kindergartner Christiana Lewis, school board member Mark Kuczinski and school board Vice President Jamie Stevenson.
Members of the Chartiers Valley Select and Cadenza choruses perform at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Members of the Chartiers Valley Select and Cadenza choruses perform at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Gina Santilli of Collier knows that Pittsburgh weather is unpredictable, so she is hoping for plenty of sunny days as construction gets under way for the nearly $80 million expansion and renovation at Chartiers Valley Middle School and High School.

“We think it's going to be good for the community and kids,” said Santilli, who has a son that will be a sophomore in the fall and a daughter entering ninth grade.

Construction at the middle school is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017 and at the high school in the fall of 2019.

If the schedule remains intact, Santilli's daughter will be part of the first graduating class at the new facility.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place May 31 in front of the current building that opened in 1973 as a high school. Community members also watched a video presentation about the new schools.

“I like the open concept,” said Holly McAleer of Collier, who has a son going into the eighth grade and a daughter going into the sixth. “I'm excited that they will get to experience the new building.”

The middle school will be constructed first. The new, 130,000-square-foot, free-standing school will sit adjacent to the existing middle/high school facility.

The building will include state-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) facilities, outdoor learning terraces, a centralized administration office and a three-story student commons featuring a cafe/bistro-style food service.

The high school project will be a combination of renovation and new construction in a 395,000-square-foot space.

The existing circular academic spaces, including the library and administrative offices, will be demolished.

New construction will feature a four-story academic tower adjacent to a three-story atrium space that will serve as the student commons.

The performing arts department will undergo a complete renovation.

The pool, gymnasium, S-wing and shared auditorium and kitchen will remain.

Superintendent Brian White said the school was considered cutting-edge in 1973. While the exterior remains in good condition, the interior has a number of problems.

In 2013, district officials retained IKM Inc. and BLRB Architects to examine the facility. The recommendation was to significantly renovate or replace the middle/high schools.

A community summit was held the following year, as 70 community members provided input on what they wanted.

In addition to the monthly summits, a design advisory team for each school was created.

The teams consisted of teachers, administrators, students and parents who worked with representatives from IKM.

White said the theme for the entire process is “Change how you see. See how you change.”

Students from each grade were selected to participate in the groundbreaking.

Most of the students submitted a drawing, essay or digital picture with a caption that helped create a vision of the theme.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.

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