Friday August 31, 2012

CHESHIRE -- Hoosac Valley High School is about to dive into the digital age.

A couple of hundred people dropped by the newly renovated school Thursday to take one of several guided tours through the new facility.

Among the new features they saw were more than 200 brand new Macintosh computers -- 24 of them in the library alone -- networked with each other wirelessly.

There are also computer-driven interactive blackboards.

Well, they're not blackboards exactly. For one thing, they are white. And there's not any chalk around. The interactive boards at the front of the classrooms work through a Macintosh computer projected onto the board. The image can be manipulated by a teacher or student by using the board like a touch screen.

Each teacher will have a new MacBook Pro laptop computer, which will also be part of the school's wireless network.

There are several new computer labs complete with a cadre of iMacs. There are also be a number of iPads used in the new technologically advanced teaching environment.

Alfred Skrocki, Adams-Ches hire Regional School Dis trict superintendent, ex plained to visitors that there are a number of upgrades other than the computer network, including a raft of energy-saving designs.

For example, the old pool -- unused for seven years -- was covered with steel beams, concrete and flooring to house the middle school gymnasium, but the pool is still under there and will be employed as a catch basin for rain water for use in the school's toilets.

The new flooring is made of recycled materials. The lights in the classrooms and bathrooms are all fitted with motion detectors, meaning that when nobody is there, the lights will turn off automatically, saving energy and money for the district.

And there will soon be a 570,000 kilowatt solar array installed on school grounds to offset some of the school's power needs.

The cafeteria is also seeing upgrades in the style and quality of meals to be served, including a salad bar.

"I'm even tempted to come and have lunch here with my kids," said Lakeesha Bala wender, a mother of two from Cheshire. "And the science room is unbelievable."

The $42 million project is near completion, with the school scheduled to open for business on Sept. 7, noted incoming principal Vinnie Regan. Work began in June 2011.

The middle school section of the building is completely separate from the high school portion, with its own classrooms and gymnasium. The original structure, at 156,000 square feet, had three additions installed totaling 26,000 more square feet.

"This is really nice," noted Adams resident Tom Kidder during a tour. "They did a very good job."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
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