By SAM HOUSEHOLDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Wawasee High School’s new Area Career and Technical Cooperative had it’s official dedication and open house Friday, showing off it’s new facilities and learning areas to the community.
Ground was broken for the project in October 2010 and the teachers began moving into the new space in November 2011, but the project’s roots go back much further than that.
According to superintendent Dr. Tom Eddington, the idea for the expansion began three years ago, in 2009, when the Wawasee school board toured the school and noticed the student population was outgrowing the exisiting facilities.
Eddington noted that the cafeteria, which was part of a 1968 expansion, was still in use by nearly 400 students at a time, when the capacity of the area was lower than that.
Eddington thanked the “far-sighted” school board for seeing a problem and coming up with a solution that should help the school for a long time.
The expansion replaced the old weightroom and locker room facilities, added a greenhouse to the school’s agriculture program and gave new rooms and equipment for the woodshop and engineering and design programs.
“It’s a tremendous asset,” said Allen Coblentz, engineering and design teacher. “We lost a little (space) in square footagwe but got something more modern and more organized.”
“We talked about technology and now we have the technology and the kids are using a state-of-the-art facility,” he added, referring to new software, computers and machines the program received in the expansion.
Director of the cooperative Tracy Roberts said the students have really taken to their new work space.
“I see excitement with the kids,” she said.
The expansion cost $3 million and Eddington said the school got a good deal because of the economic downturn which allowed them to get lower bids and low-interest loans. Officials got to include a new locker room and weightroom that they weren’t sure they could afford.
Wawasee atheletic director Steve Wiktorowski thanked the school board for the new facilities.
“They were responsible with the money and gave us a very practical building,” he said.
The new area is 26,000 square feet and the old cooperative area will now be the cafeteria and give more room to other classes, including the family and consumer sciences and culinary arts programs, according to Roberts.
Wawasee’s career cooperative will see growth with the new facilities and students will have opportunities to learn more to help them in the future.
“This is what we’re about,” Coblentz said, “applying what the students learn.”