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Arts and Library Addition Makes Steady Progress

November 13, 2017

Construction workers, staff, and students gathered at the one side of the school to celebrate breaking ground of Centrals $18 million new addition on the morning of June 22. Students first heard of this addition on the last days of the 2016-2017 school year, as Principal Dr. Bennett gave each grade level a sneak peak of the expansion. “The addition is the largest in terms of interior square footage since the auditorium was added in the 1930s,” principal Dr. Bennet said. The new addition may change the look of the East side, but it will greatly benefit both the students and teachers here at Central. “The instrumental room and the black box theater are greatly needed,” Vocal Music instructor Mrs. Cowan said. “Currently, performing arts classes have to share the auditorium space, and this means that our choirs rarely get to practice on stage, maybe only once or twice before a concert.” With this new addition—called the CHS Arts and Library addition—people will be able to use it to their full advantage.

Once the addition is done, it is planned to provide areas for music, art, and have a new state-of-the-art library. “This addition will provide modern spaces for the library, art department as well as choir and instrumental music classes,” Band instructor Mr. Wilger said. In addition, there will be a black-box theater for performing and visual arts, and classrooms that also help expand Central’s performing arts department. In addition to the plans to expand the library and art department, plans have also been made in order to keep the historical look that has made Central different from any Omaha Public School. “[W]e worked really hard to make certain the new CHS Arts and Library addition ran seamless, so it doesn’t have the feel of a new addition,” Central High School Foundation Executive Director Michelle Roberts said. Construction has been underway since the groundbreaking ceremony to make the vision that so many supporters have a reality.

Over the summer and during the first quarter of the school year, pivotal steps have been taken in starting construction. “A great deal has been completed including excavation, geopiers drilling for the footings, and creation of the retaining wall,” Bennett said. Students have been able to witness the excavation efforts as they enter and exit school, and drive past 20th street. Much of the construction has been supported by the CHS Foundation through supporters throughout the community.  “The Central High School Foundation privately raised $22 million to make the Arts and Library addition a reality,” Roberts said. But until the Arts and Library addition is complete, support is always needed. “Generous donors have made the vision of this addition a reality, but fundraising is never complete,” Bennett said.  The support would greatly benefit the addition in the future in order for it to reach its greatest potential.

Construction of the Arts and Library addition is not expected to be completed until the winter of 2018. Even though there is a long way to go before plans for the addition become a complete reality, teachers are already talking about the benefits that the addition will bring. “The new instrumental music room will be much larger than the current space which will help tremendously,” Wilger said.  “Also, the spaces that art, library and music vacate will be available for our large school population which means more students will be positively affected.” This addition will greatly benefit the education that Central has to offer to students by giving students the opportunity to fluorish in performing arts and use the digital library to help academically succeed. “While I will certainly miss the ‘old’ vocal music room, I’m excited for the opportunities this new space will offer students,” Cowan said.

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