Central’s Facelift in Full Force

If you’ve driven down Aurora Avenue lately, you’ve noticed the countless bulldozers, tractors and trucks working to get Naperville Central High School’s renovations complete, all while making sure the buildings are ready for students and teachers arriving in August. Full crews have only been in the 58 year-old building for about a week, but things are already moving fast.

“(We are) either on schedule or just a little bit in front of schedule,” said
Ralph Weaver, Director of Facilities and Construction for District 203. “But they’ve been knocking out the walls and everything since Thursday afternoon where they kept right in pace with my movers.”

This summer’s phase is the bulk of the nearly $90 million construction and renovation plan and crews are working on a multitude of projects: Finishing construction on classrooms in the new wing that overlooks Memorial Stadium, gutting the older buildings near the Aurora Avenue entrance and eventually using the heavy tractors to bring those buildings down.

With so many parts of the school being touched, chairs, desks, books, musical instruments and shelves have to go somewhere. That’s where the Fieldhouse comes in. The area usually reserved for sports activities is now filled wall-to-wall with anything and everything. When asked if he ever thought he’d see that kind of assortment of items in the Fieldhouse, Weaver simply chuckled and quipped he had “never seen that field house full of stuff.”

Even with a comically “full of stuff” field house, Weaver’s favorite parts of the renovation are in the new wing. The first is the freshly-laid floor in the gymnastics room, which is reinforced with more than a hundred springs for not only perfect dismounts, but quiet dismounts that won’t disturb nearby teachers in their new classrooms.

Weaver’s other favorite spot is sure to be a fan favorite for students and staff alike: the new cafeteria. The eating area is a massive three story atrium, complete with skylights, windows overlooking Memorial Stadium and a giant HD television.

The main theme for the renovation shines through in the cafeteria—building and enjoying a shiny new school building while still remembering the past. Three of the walls are new constructions that have been built over the past year, but the north wall is the exterior of the existing building which will continue to stand.

And that makes Weaver smile. He’s been the point man for this project since the planning stages started in fall of 2008, and with the project right around the halfway point, he’s focused on finishing the whole project—slated to be finished in December 2011—the right way.

“It’s going to be a beautiful building,” said Weaver while flashing a big smile. “One that the Naperville citizens can be very proud of . . . The referendum was well worth their money.”

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