By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer
This summer, contractors will start work on a $3 million project to restore and revamp the Central Middle School auditorium.
It’s the final phase of an $8 million renovation project started three years ago at the school.
“The goal is to make the facility modern for 21st century learners,” Kokomo-Center Schools Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said. “And we want to protect and showcase some of the historical charm.”
The building has a long history.
It was built in 1914 for $2.1 million, according to the district’s most recent capital projects fund plan. It became Kokomo High School’s third building. The second building, constructed in 1898, burned down.
The building was renovated in 1929, 1950, 1966, 1973 and 2000.
Over the years, they added a vocational building, classroom space, cafeterias, a media center, gymnasium and science rooms.
In 1984 the building housed eighth- and ninth-graders.
Today, it’s one of two middle schools in the district. Last year, 698 students attended the school — its highest enrollment in the last five years, according to the capital projects funds report.
Part of the enrollment boost can be attributed to the new international school curriculum being taught at Central, officials have said.
That curriculum and the integrated arts curriculum coming soon to the school prompted the need for more renovations.
“The classrooms needed to be bigger,” Hauswald said. “We needed to have more lab space.”
In many cases, three classrooms were combined to make two larger classrooms. An unused space in the school was turned into a student commons area.
Carpet was ripped up to showcase the school’s original terrazzo floors. Historical lighting was added.
All of the renovations over the last three years cost the district about $5 million. The complete remodel is almost finished.
“The last remaining piece of our 1914 building is the auditorium,” Hauswald said.
Work is set to begin in June.
It’s scheduled to be finished by August 2014, in time for the integrated arts program to be launched at the middle school.
Hauswald said it needs some serious updates, so the integrated arts students can hold performances there.
“The acoustics were bad,” he said. “The seats were falling apart. It didn’t even have the lighting needed to properly do plays.”
During the renovation, contractors will restore some of the historical elements of the original 1914 vaudevillian theatre.
They will restore the balcony and the original roof, which is covered now. They will restore the original stage and uncover the proscenium, the arch that frames the stage. Hauswald said it’s covered by drywall.
“We’ll have it done in time for its 100th birthday,” Hauswald said. “It’s an exciting project.”
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