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Chester County Press

Avon Grove welcomes friends and stakeholders at dedication for new high school

04/18/2023 10:47AM ● By Steven Hoffman

The dedication event at the new Avon Grove High School last Thursday brought out expressions of delight and satisfaction among the guests—reminiscent of an encore at a Broadway musical.

The ceremony gave stakeholders a chance to see the fruits of their labors that began with a 35-member planning committee in 2014 and moved on to its opening for students last September.

So agreeable and warm was the weather under the early evening skies last week that Superintendent Christopher Marchese, in his keynote, said if they had anticipated such pleasant conditions, they could have held the event outside.

Throughout his speech in the new auditorium, he spoke often on how important he felt the building was for the students to achieve their goals and dreams.

“This school was built for you, the students, with you in mind,” he said

Architect Michael Strohecker had a story to tell. He said the construction of the building, originally estimated at $81,001,789, presented challenges he had never encountered before because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the whole labor force had masks on throughout and that that labor and material were difficult to obtain during that time as well.

Later, the architects showed a video depicting the building process of the school.

Included among the visitors to the event were township officials and other elected officials, construction crew and architects, performing students, school administrators and school board members. The cafeteria stuff was on hand to provide refreshments in the first half hour.

School Board President Bonnie Wolff recounted the process that brought them to the completed building.

She said a committee weighed options – one that even included renovating the old high school and building a new middle school. The committee finally recommended, however, to move ahead with the new high school. The building itself is massive and gray with a slanted entrance roof.

Avon Grove High School student newspaper editor Jackson Morris was on hand surveying the goings-on. He said he and his fellow students are happy in the new building. It has much wider halls, and it’s easy to move around.

One of the he things he said they are still getting used to is the third floor. The former high school had only two floors.

“The school is much more open. The other was kind of dark,” he said.

Among the presenters in the auditorium were High School Principal Christie Snead and Student Body President Carlos Ochoa. They held up a time capsule that will be closed and put away until a much later time. Snead said the students contributed to the contents with objects that reflect the time and place now.

The presentations concluded with the cutting of a ribbon with Wolff, her board colleagues and local dignitaries standing beside her.

Students guided guests on tours around the school.

Several unique features of the new school are two outdoor enclosed courtyards – apparently for gatherings and outdoor study -- and a landing of stairs outside the auditorium called “The Learning Steps,” where students can sit and watch videos that are shown in front of them there.

The street on which the school sits is named for Lawrence Waltman, who operated Sunset Park will into his old age and is a legend in southern Chester County.