JOLIET – Construction workers still are making space for a student center that Joliet Central High School Principal John Randich says will give students a “21st century learning environment.”
Demolition of Little Theater on Herkimer Street, which will be the site of the new center, began the week of Jan. 27 and is anticipated to be completed by the end of the week, Joliet Township High School District 204 school officials said.
The demolition of the Little Theater and planned construction of the student center comes after school officials saw a need for expanded space at Joliet Central High School, which includes “flexible space for student and community use.”
The student center will give students collaboration spaces and services that will provide a “21st century learning environment,” such as table counters with nearby outlets where they can do work on electronic devices while eating lunch.
“It’s just expanding the opportunity for the kids,” said Brian Shaw, Joliet Central High School assistant principal, about the student center.
The student center also will house the school cafeteria, expanding seating from 350 now to roughly 500, Randich said. It will keep all cafeteria food services and kitchen equipment on the same floor instead of several, he said.
The $28 million construction project, which will be funded through bonds, is beginning the second of a three-phase project slated to end sometime in spring 2016. The architect of the project is Tom Roth of Wight and Co.
Demolition of Little Theater took place after the Infant Childcare Center at the building was relocated to Collins Street.
The Little Theater building is a former church that was converted into an auditorium.
School officials called the demolition of Little Theater a “fiscally responsible decision” and said renovation was not an option because of costs associated with upgrading the facility to meet educational needs.
Members of the community could use the space for events, meetings and presentations.
“Once the community sees our facility, they might have uses for it that we haven’t even thought of yet,” Randich said.
A galleria is expected to be attached to the east side of the school to connect the student center to the main campus, school officials said. The galleria will be designed to be like the atrium that currently joins the Field House to the gym on the north side of the school.
School officials say they plan on preserving the historical integrity of the 112-year-old high school building. Joliet Central High School Archive Committee members have been providing feedback to the construction planning team to make sure the plan mirrors the school’s historical nature, they said.
Phases of the Student Center Construction Project
Phase One: Relocation of the Infant Childcare Center out of the Little Theatre building to Collins Street.
Phase Two: Demolition of the Little Theatre building.
Phase Three: Construction of the Student Center, which is slated to begin during the 2014 school year.
Source: Joliet Township High School District 204