GRAFTON, Mass. – With only four weeks to go before the first day of school, construction workers and staff are frantically working to get the new $73 million Grafton High School ready for business.
Students and parents will get a look at their new school Thursday as scheduled tours begin.
"Teachers have started coming in this week to get the classrooms organized," Principal Jim Pignataro said as he stood in a science classroom filled with boxes. "Everything's starting to come together."
The building has been closed to the general public since the town took possession of it last month, and a walk-through Wednesday evening showed why: the building may be complete, but there's still a substantial punch list of items that need to be finished. Caution tape blocks off some areas; tools, extension cords and plywood are still very much in evidence.
The school's common area, a wide-open space that will serve as cafeteria and overall gathering space, is an expanse of multi-colored tiles. The newly completed eatery area has photos of old Grafton scenes mixed with photos culled from yearbooks: the Grafton Common bandstand, the town's original high school, running soccer players, a sports team with hairstyles that scream of the 1980s.
Natural light is a key feature of the school, Pignataro said.
"There are windows everywhere to bring in light," he said. "The old school is very dark compared to this one."
Large expanses of glass at the rear of the school look out into courtyards and playing fields. The natural light is key to the school's "green" nature, which extends into classrooms where lights have motion-control sensors for energy conservation.
New to the school is a television studio, which will allow for easy broadcast of school events. Pignataro said the school is working with Grafton Community Television to develop programs for internal use and public broadcast.
"There are so many things we'll be able to do with students that we weren't able to do before with this kind of space," Pignataro said.
Grafton residents will have the opportunity to tour Aug. 27 after a 6 p.m. dedication ceremony.