The estimated $67 million renovations planned at St. Helens High School (SHHS) at 2375 Gable Road are moving slowly due to a combination of factors, according to Principal Katy Wagner.

Front View

This conceptual drawing shows the front view of St. Helens High School following the renovations.

Conceptual Image

This flyover conceptual drawing shows what the renovated high school campus could look like when completed.

Demolition of portions of the school was to begin in June but had been rescheduled due to design issues and now that work has been impacted again.

In the following conversation, Wagner gives The Chronicle the latest details.

The Chronicle: We understand that the renovations had slowed and the demolition was rescheduled. What caused the slow down, what is happening this month and what is the projected date to begin and complete the demolition?

Katy Wagner: Rising construction costs and supply chain in addition to delays in permitting have slowed the project. Our construction company plans to install our site fencing the first week of February and begin abatement of the A building the second week of February.

The Chronicle: Specifically, what areas of the high school will be demolished and why those areas?

Wagner: All of the classroom and office space in A building will be demolished. The gym, auditorium, and band/choir room additions will remain in place and be renovated. The remainder of the school campus will be renovated and or remodeled based on architectural plans that have involved our staff, school board, and community.

The Chronicle: How have the students and teachers adjusted with the renovations so far, being in the portable classrooms?

Wagner: Change is always challenging, but our staff and students have been incredibly resilient. Some of our teachers had been in the same classroom for decades so a shift into a new room requires new approaches to instruction and new ways to use the physical space. Some of our portables are in better condition than the classrooms that are in the original buildings, so it was a welcome change.

The Chronicle: From your insight, what will be the most striking, or the most important element of this renovation?

Wagner: The most impactful element of the renovation will be the updates to make SHHS a 21st century campus - architectural finishes that capitalize on natural light, functionality for innovative science labs, new technology for instruction and equitable access for students and improved safety. All of these also make a huge difference in the school climate and help our community feel a sense of investment in the academic and social emotional success of our students.

Looking at the Future

St. Helens School Superintendent Scot Stockwell looks over a flyover conceptual drawing of the completed renovations at St. Helens High School.

In a published interview with The Chronicle last September, St. Helens School District School Superintendent Scot Stockwell said beyond advantages for students and school staff, the new renovations will provide new opportunities for the community.

“That is really a big part of our dream,” he said. “It will be set up so that the community will be able to use the athletic fields, our performing arts area, and our cafeteria, so it will be a really great space or the community to come together to play, to participate in activities, and performances. We are looking forward to this being a busy place all the time and being used well.”

Stockwell said a key way to help the community utilize the building will be through the school district’s connection to the City of St. Helens Parks and Recreation programs.

Read more about the SHHS renovations in the attached previous articles and follow this developing story here at thechronicleonline.com and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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