Major construction at Heights High to begin in June

This rendering depicts how the new Heights High will look when renovations are finished in summer 2017.

After years of planning, meetings and passage of Issue 81, construction is slated to begin this June on a comprehensive renovation of Cleveland Heights High School. All of the additions made since 1926 will be removed and the original historic core will be renovated.

The most dramatic change will be removal of the Science Wing and the return of the front lawn. The façade will be restored to its original appearance. A hybrid geothermal system will be located under the East Field.

Washington Level: What is currently referred to as “the tunnels” (but is really the basement) will become the “Washington Level.” A mishmash of halls and rooms cobbled together over the last 80 years will become an orderly collection of athletic spaces. All gym and team spaces will be located on this level, with rooms designed for the functions they will house. The South Gym will be replaced with a new gym seating 1,800, with a new auxiliary gym replacing the East and West gyms. The new pool will have eight full-size lanes as opposed to the current six undersized ones, along with new locker rooms and family changing rooms. The pool is being designed with community use in mind.

Cedar Level: The first floor, or “Cedar Level,” will house almost all of the school’s public spaces. While the main historic entrance will be renovated to restore more of the original details, a new visitors entrance will be located off of the east drive. Most of the administrative offices will be to the left of this foyer. To the right will be a 250-seat auditorium, for lectures, recitals, community events and distance learning. Where the Social Room currently sits will be the library, next to a new cafeteria with lots of natural light. On the west side of the building will be special education classrooms. Along the north corridor, the Instrumental Music Department will have access to the restored auditorium.

Second floor: The second floor will be all academic spaces with new classrooms. These larger rooms are designed for current technology and can easily be upgraded in the future. Bigger project labs will have room for special projects and interdisciplinary teaching. Wrapping around the auditorium will be additional classrooms, with science classes no longer in a separate wing.

Third floor: The third floor will match the second in layout and design. Art classrooms will sit above the auditorium in a loft-like space with natural light on both sides. The compact design of the second and third floors will make the building easier to navigate. The symmetry provides flexibility in how Heights High will function in the future. Classes can be assigned by grade level, academic concentration or other methodologies, changing over time as education methods evolve.

Crews and staff prepare for move to Wiley: Construction crews are preparing the former Wiley Middle School site to accommodate Heights High for the next two academic years. High school staff members are beginning to pack boxes in preparation for the move. In the fall of 2017, students will return to the corner of Cedar and Lee roads, to the renovated high school building.

The physical work at Wiley includes modifications to the inside of the current building (including a larger cafeteria), installation of modular classroom space on the former football field, and altering the driveway and parking lot surface areas to accommodate a new traffic-flow pattern.

Facilities Accountability Committee (FAC): Members of the FAC continue to meet monthly to receive updates on the Heights High Renovation Project. All FAC meetings are open to the community.

A Historic Preservation Committee has formed to identify items to be archived or repurposed for the renovated Heights High.

A consultant has been hired to assist with fundraising in expansion areas that fall outside of the bond issue around athletics, arts, applied science and public spaces.

The mission of the FAC is to monitor and regularly report to the board of education regarding the status, progress and expenditure of funds for phase one of the district’s comprehensive plan, as authorized by voters as Issue 81 in November 2013.

Angee Shaker

Angee Shaker is director of communications for Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 4:04 PM, 04.30.2015