The proposed Lewiston High School Comprehensive Expansion Project is set to be decided by local referendum on Nov. 5. As discussion commenced concerning the proposed wing, an auditorium/performing arts center was initially a focal point, along with spaces for instrumental and choral music and visual arts classrooms.

Upon careful reflection, recognition of several other critical needs prompted a broader view of the expansion project. An auditorium was set aside due to the cost to build and a concern for asking more from taxpayers at one time than would be realistic or respectful of keeping property taxes reasonable.

The visual and performing arts classrooms, as well as improved building security, classroom spaces for special education and relief of overcrowded conditions in the building all headline the referendum question.

Moving the arts as well as special education out of the basement is crucial for several reasons. The current facilities were never intended to be classroom/instructional space and lack natural light, adequate ventilation, access to the main floors of the building, as well as suffering with cramped conditions devoid of any storage capacity. Students relegated to these spaces experience feeling cut off from the school community and access is further exacerbated by lack of handicapped access with only a small service elevator, built solely for kitchen and custodial staff to use.

The new wing is designed to provide appropriate studio classroom facilities for the visual arts, including ceramics, black and white photography, drawing and painting, mixed media as well as digital media offerings. Also, the plan calls for climate-controlled instrumental and vocal music classrooms, rehearsal studios, and the facilities to offer theater.

Located near the entry of the school, a newly-designed front lobby would showcase student art and celebrate the efforts and creative achievements of our arts students.

These well thought-out and designed studio spaces would also be available for use by the whole community via adult education courses beyond what is now being offered.

As a two-story addition, the new wing offers much-needed additional classrooms on the second floor to relieve an overcrowding of the building that has been mounting for several years. New, exciting course offerings, such as coding, may become a reality with the space to explore relevant and appealing courses of study.

An important component of the initiative is to bring special education students upstairs and include them in the school community in a much more real sense, and providing well-lit brighter, healthier spaces for these students to learn and participate more fully in the life of the school.

Finally, the entrance of the school would get a facelift and redesign that focuses on practical concerns regarding safety and security, as well as providing a warm and welcoming experience for those who enter the building, embracing and reinforcing the sense of Blue Devil pride we all share for our school, its students and the Lewiston community.

More information may be obtained by visiting https://lhs.lewistonpublicschools.org/lhs-expansion-project-1121be4e# or on Facebook: Lewiston High School Building Expansion, https://www.facebook.com/LHSExpansion/ .

Jody Dube is an art teacher at Lewiston High School and a member of the LHS Expansion and Improvement Committee. He is a Lewiston resident.


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