After two years in planning, new SHS wing is underway

By Lynn R. Parks

Seaford School Board member Clint Dunn graduated from Seaford High School in 1990. On Friday, he was among a crowd of people who attended a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of a 55,000-square foot wing on the high school.

"I can tell you, I am feeling a lot of pride today," Dunn said at the conclusion of the ceremony. "But this new wing is just a visual manifestation of all the things that are going on inside our schools. We are beautiful on the inside, and now we will have a building to match."

School board president Mike Smith told the crowd that plans for the high school renovation have been in the works since late 2010. "It has grown from just an idea to actually making it happen," he said.

The new wing, to be built in the front yard of the existing school, will house Delaware New Tech, one of the high school's new "academies" from which students can choose. Delaware New Tech is in its second year and will graduate its first class in spring 2014.

Voters approved the $36.5 million renovation package for the high school in May 2011. The state has agreed to pay 75 percent of the cost of the project, or $27 million, leaving about $9.1 million to be paid by local taxpayers. Plans also include construction of two more additions: an 8,900-square foot wing to house the culinary arts program and a 3,000-square foot wing for the agricultural program.

But for now, the focus is on the front wing. District supervisor of building and grounds Roy Whitaker said that construction was set to start by Monday at the latest and, barring any weather event, be finished for the start of school in September. General contractor is Richard Y. Johnson and Son, Lincoln.

District superintendent Shawn Joseph told the crowd at the groundbreaking that the ceremony "marks a new beginning."

He added, "Today, we can begin to look forward to our future instead of back to the district's past. Delaware New Tech will define what education will look like throughout our county, our state and our nation. It will prepare our students to take their rightful place in the new world economy. And Seaford will be the best place in the state of Delaware to be educated."

Delaware New Tech student Guy St. Charles said that being part of the academy has changed his life, in school as well as at home.

"Before, I was always getting referrals," he said. "I hated all my teachers and I hated my classes. New Tech changed that for me."

Now, he said, he enjoys his classes. "I've learned how important it is to be part of a family and I've realized that no dream is out of my reach."

The groundbreaking featured members of the high school's Junior ROTC program, who carried the Delaware and U.S. flags, and the high school band, under the direction of Tyler Wiernusz. The band played the Star-Spangled Banner at the start of the ceremony and, at the end, the Seaford High Fight Song.

"Amazing things are going to happen on the ground right under our feet," high school principal Todd Fishburn said to conclude the ceremony. "But more importantly, amazing things will happen after we open the doors and our students walk in."

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