DANVERS — Yesterday was the first day of school in town, but for 1,057 high-school students, it was the first day in a newly renovated, mostly complete $71 million Danvers High building.
“The new high school is like a completely different world,” said senior Allie Walsh. “When I saw the new lobby, I didn’t think it would ever look like this.”
Walsh likes the openness of a new soaring lobby that connects the library, the cafeteria and the main entrance and serves as central meeting place for students. It also provides access to a main corridor that runs the length of the building.
Over the past three years, crews from Bacon Construction renovated the entire high school. The project was designed by architects from DiNisco Design Partnership and was overseen by Construction Monitoring Services, the Department of Public Works, and town and school officials.
“Overall, it’s a beautiful building,” Town Manager Wayne Marquis told selectmen Tuesday night.
It’s the largest project the town has ever undertaken. During the two-phase project, crews gutted and renovated the field house and the 1960s academic wing, built a new science wing along Cabot Road, created a new front entrance and facade, and built new central administration offices, among other things.
The project not only created new spaces for students but added some subtle touches, as well.
The seal of the Danvers Falcon now greets students at the front entrance, thanks to a gift from the Class of 1963, the high school’s first graduating class. An electronic sign board flashes messages along Cabot Road, thanks to a gift from the Class of 1985. Curved lights in the ceiling of the new front lobby remind one of clouds. There are “smart” televisions set into wood-paneled walls. The new cafeteria off the front lobby has the feel of a food court.