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Pretty and polished: Oak Harbor High School renovation wraps up

Five days before school starts, Oak Harbor High School Principal Dwight Lundstrom stands in an A Wing hallway, now fully renovated and spacious.  Before the remodel, Lundstrom could touch both walls at once.  - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Five days before school starts, Oak Harbor High School Principal Dwight Lundstrom stands in an A Wing hallway, now fully renovated and spacious. Before the remodel, Lundstrom could touch both walls at once.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor High School students are in for a shock as they head into school this morning. They no longer have to fear being knocked over by a door in narrow hallways. They no longer have to trudge outside and upstairs to transfer classrooms. They no longer have to be bused to north campus for their humanities classes. Finally, after much anticipation, the high school’s A Wing has been completed.

The renovation of the A Wing, which houses mainly English and language classes, was the last phase of the high school modernization project that began in 2006. For the past three years, students and teachers had to travel to the old Clover Valley Elementary building near the main gate of the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station to attend classes during construction.

“When talking about the old building, I always seem to repeat the words ‘tiny’ and ‘dingy’ when talking about every room,” Oak Harbor’s Communication Director Joe Hunt said, “but everything really was just tiny and dingy.”

The A Wing now has much wider hallways to prevent congestion, an outdoor atrium that allows all classrooms to have windows, restaurant-grade appliances in its culinary arts room, an indoor passage to other buildings and a larger, more useful library among other amenities.

Additionally, the A Wing now has a spacious staff room for the high school’s 100-plus employees. Before, staff members had small areas in each wing to meet, but rarely had the opportunity to mingle with teachers from other departments.

“The interaction between one building’s teachers and the other building’s teachers didn’t exist,” Hunt said. “Now it can.”

Last Friday, numerous maintenance workers were still in the building painting, cleaning, adjusting lights and moving furniture. Teachers were busy putting supplies away and putting decorations up in their new classrooms.

“I feel like I’m in an entirely new school,” English teacher Maya Kilmer said. Kilmer has spent the last three years running between Clover Valley and the high school everyday. This year, she has her own room in just one location.

“It feels like one massive campus now, and it hasn’t felt like that in a while,” she said.

High school principal Dwight Lundstrom said the difference between the old building and the new facility is unbelievable. After each renovation the staff has had to quickly settle into their new spaces, and Lundstrom is glad the modernization is finally coming to an end.

“Every one of these has been a scramble,” Lundstrom said last week as he helped teachers get situated. “Right now I feel like my hair is on fire, but I’m excited.”

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