FARMINGTON — The sounds of heavy equipment and construction filled the area in and around Mt. Blue High School and the Foster technical center Friday as RSU 9 Superintendent Michael Cormier led a tour of the nearly $65 million expansion and renovation project.
When it's finished in September 2013, the high school, the Foster Career and Technical Education Center, SAD 9 adult education and Franklin County Community College Network programs will all be on the campus.
This fall, nearly 900 students will attend the high school, which was built in 1969. They'll have a new two-story classroom wing where lights go on when one enters a classroom and go off when one leaves. The library, food court, kitchen and presentation forum will also be ready.
The three-story classroom wing is under renovation, so 12 portable units will be used for classes this year.
Main Street, a corridor that runs the length of the 200,000-square-foot school building, is accented with lots of natural wood. Southern pine planks adorn the ceiling where pendant lights are being installed.
The round-shaped presentation forum off Main Street is nearly ready. Off Main Street is the library, and off that is a computer lab.
“Use your imagination. This will be ready before school starts” Cormier said as he entered the forum that will be used by chorus and orchestra members.
On Friday, piles of metal and wood were all that was left of the former kitchen and cafeteria, and an excavator was chomping away at the auditorium.
Equipment and appliances for the new prep kitchen have been installed.
“It may be difficult to believe but in three weeks this will be ready to operate,” said Cormier, who was joined by Director of Support Services David Leavitt in leading the tour.
Cormier walked into the serving area and the food court where there will be booths with seats and tables for standing.
New baseball and softball fields, a competition field for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, a multipurpose field and tennis courts are planned.
The athletic fields won't be ready for two years, Cormier said Friday. A practice field will be used for physical education this coming school year, but it will be another year before it can be used for other purposes, he said.
A greenhouse is also planned.
The building is energy efficient with a wood chip boiler, and radiant, geothermal and passive solar heat and cooling systems. The wind turbines near the end of the property will be used for teaching students about the new technology but not for powering the building.
Construction by general contractor Wright-Ryan of Portland began last year. The new gym opened in March, along with the new showers, bathrooms and locker rooms.
The construction crew is averaging 120 people a day and working seven days a week, Cormier said.