It was a beautiful, sunny morning Oct. 1 at Berlin High School as local and state officials stood alongside students, parents, and educators to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony of the BHS renovation project.
It’s been a long time coming, seven years to be exact, since the Board of Education began the planning process of upgrading the high school back in 2006.
“After many years of planning, it feels great to finally be standing here this morning (Oct. 1),” Mayor Adam Salina said. “Though we are calling this a ground breaking ceremony, the reality is that phase one is complete with construction of our new technology education wing, as well as the demolition within the existing school that began on July 1.”
Superintendent of Schools David Erwin said the final project will afford this generation of students and the students to follow, an opportunity for everyone to work at “a state-of-the-art facility with an excellent curriculum lead by dedicated and diligent staff members. Cheers to the new renovate as new BHS,” Erwin said.
House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, Democrat who represents Berlin and Southington in the General Assembly, worked along side state Rep. Cathy Abercrombie and state Sen. Terry Gerratana on legislation to secure $19.3 million through the state’s School Construction Grant Program to help pay for the renovations to the 60 year-old building, which includes replacement of the roof.
“I’m thrilled to finally see construction underway. I would like to thank the many people who have worked so hard and so long to get us here today, including Mayor Adam Salina, Schools Superintendent David Erwin, and Board of Education President Gary Brochu,” Aresimowicz said. “I would also like to thank Senator Terry Gerratana and Representative Cathy Abercrombie who worked with me to obtain the much-needed state dollars to ensure that Berlin High School is transformed into the state-of-the-art school that our students deserve.
First opened in 1953, the high school has been showing signs of wear and tear. In 2011, a ceiling collapsed in a classroom because of water leaking through the roof. As a result, the town voted in a 2011 referendum for a $69 million renovation project of the high school. The project is called “build-as-new,” which means everything in the high school would be gutted and renovated as new.
“Today is a special day and while I don’t suggest it marks the beginning of the end, I would suggest that today marks the end of the beginning and that we are proceeding forward,” Brochu said.
“Thanks to those parents out there that worked tirelessly over two different referendums to finally get an overwhelming consensus that this is something we need to do,” he added. “Today is not about the Board of Education or the Town Council. Today is about Berlin; it’s about our community. Today isn’t about where our schools are today — this ceremony is about where our community is going in the future and to that I thank all of you who supported that.”