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‘A very historic time for Holley’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 September 2013 at 12:00 am

School district celebrates $32 million in upgrades

Photos by Tom Rivers – Holley Central School Superintendent Robert D’Angelo addresses a crowd tonight before a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the refurbished junior-high school. A big crowd attended an open house to see the improvements. The Holley Board of Education is pictured next to D’Angelo. Board President Brenda Swanger is holding the scissors.

HOLLEY – School district residents and students walked into the middle-high school foyer this evening and many couldn’t believe the sweeping changes in the school.

The building has been transformed in the past three years, the result of $32 million in capital improvement projects. The last of the major work was completed over the summer.

“This is a very historic time for the district,” Superintendent Robert D’Angelo told about 200 people this evening during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Other than the exterior walls this is a brand-new junior-senior high school.”

Several hundred more people showed up after the ribbon-cutting to tour the revamped school.

“It looks so much better,” said Nicole Boyle, a junior at Holley. “It’s like a new school.”

Community members, including Village Trustee David Dill, front left, eagerly walk through the foyer and head towards the hallways.

The cafeteria was relocated away from the instructional wing and the new space includes large windows.

The school was built in the early 1970s in the “open classroom” model with most of the classrooms in the center of the school building without access to the windows and natural light on the outer walls.

Students knew the school didn’t meet the standards of buildings at many other nearby districts, Boyle said. But that is no longer the case.

“We’ll definitely be more proud of our school,” she said while passing out maps to the community as they crowded into foyer before dispersing into the hallways. “It will make the students more proud of Holley.”

The community in May 2010 approved the $27.4 million project, which followed a $4.1 million upgrade.

The improvements were spread throughout the district campus. There is a new transportation facility for buses, a new athletic field and all-weather track. The school buildings have new roofs.

The junior-high school received the most attention, with the cafeteria moved out of the instruction portion of the school. That reduces noise and disruption for teachers and students.

The hallways have new lockers and a nice shine.

The district created an inner light corridor some all classrooms now have access to existing light. The corridor includes many plants.

The new cafeteria is in an addition with big windows that let in lots of light. The district also added a “light corridor” in the center of the school to allow natural light for classrooms in the interior.

“It changes the attitude and climate of the building,” said Principal Susan Cory. “Kids will want to be here to learn.”

The changes are more than cosmetic. Classrooms are outfitted with new technology, including new science labs.

“Teachers have more technology resources,” Cory said. “They have to deal with less noise and they have more flexibility in running their classes. The focus is really on instruction.”

The project also relocated the library from a classroom wing to near the foyer in the former nurses area. The library has 10,000 books, a bigger circulation desk and the latest in technology.

“It’s a bigger space, and it’s brighter and cleaner,” said Lisa Osur, the school librarian. “It’s more purposeful.”

The library is close to the guidance counselors. If college representatives are visiting to meet with students, they can use an office in the library.

The new library, created in the former nurses wing, includes 10,000 books and lots of new technology.

John Heise was the Board of Education president while Holley secured two public votes and then all the approvals through state Education Department officials. School officials met numerous times with contractors to get the project started and finished on time without going over budget.

Heise, a former Holley principal, was on the board until June 30. He chose not to seek re-election. He greeted many of the community members today as they walked into the new-look junior-high school.

“We’ve always had a good school,” he said. “But having a building like this tells the kids they are important and valuable. So I want to thank the community for sending that message.”