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New East Hall High building part of SPLOST projects
Plans include replacing roof, HVAC systems
A welder works Wednesday on a portion of the new building under construction at East Hall High.

Holding chorus in a portable classroom, a cafeteria or even a theater is not ideal — especially when that space changes each year.

But after years of bouncing around, East Hall High School's choral program will finally have a home this coming school year.

The school is getting a new 10,000-square-foot building that will include rooms for the chorus, drama, art and computer programs.

"Words can't even begin to describe my excitement," choral director Whitney Rylee said. "I really feel like that our new building ... is really going to give our chorus here at the high school its own identity."

Rylee started at the school in 2009 with just eight students in the program. This year she had 40, and with the new space, she and Principal Jeff Cooper hope to grow the program even more. It also likely will help the students improve their sound.

"To have a room that's going to be designed for the chorus, it's actually going to help myself as a teacher a lot to be able to hear them better than where I do now," Rylee said.

But while the space for the chorus is about being able to hear, it's what they won't hear in the art classroom that's exciting.

"Art has taken place within or just one wall behind where the band operates daily classes," Cooper said. "And the drums are beating loudly and the horns are blowing loudly, and it's been tough to have a real productive class in that setting."

The building also will include a traditional classroom space for the drama program where students can use desks for writing scripts. And a new computer lab is something Cooper said East Hall and many schools in the system need.

The project is one of the biggest Hall County Schools is working on over the summer. Workers actually started on it about six weeks ago, according to Damon Gibbs, who on June 1 becomes the director for projects funded by the 1-cent sales tax for schools.

"It'll be pushing it right to the last minute," he said of the work. "... Our goal is to open it when school opens."

Other work in the system includes replacing the roof at West Hall High School along with HVAC systems at that school, North Hall Middle and East Hall Middle schools. The roof and HVAC system at West Hall are original equipment, installed in 1988.

Workers also will be making electrical upgrades at Chestatee Middle School, doing flooring work at the World Language Academy and renovating classrooms for new programs at Chestatee High and West Hall Middle schools.

"We're also putting security vestibules in all elementary schools in Hall County," Gibbs said. "...Where you cannot just walk in the front door and get access to the students. You'll be routed into the front office."

Combined, the system will be doing $4.5 million worth of work, funded by the special purpose local option sales tax.

For Gainesville City Schools, a new building for Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School is the key project. But it's not the only project.

Keith Vincent, director of maintenance and operations for the system, said a lot of work also will be happening at Wood's Mill Academy and Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

Roofing work will be completed at both schools for a combined total of $700,000, Vincent said. Workers also will make foundation repairs at Wood's Mill and install alarms and cameras at Enota. Both schools were built in the 1960s.

A modular unit at Wood's Mill Academy will be completely renovated to house students from Fair Street.

Tiling, plumbing and carpeting will be done at Gainesville High School. All schools will get new air conditioning units in server rooms. And many schools will get some new paint along with new security cameras.


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