WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Students at Warwick Veterans Memorial Junior High School will see a lot of changes when classes resume in the fall, but some upgrades – such as the quality of the air – may at first go unnoticed.
Warwick Vets has been under scrutiny since it was converted from a high school to a junior high school last year. In an effort to modernize the school and ensure it’s safe and comfortable for students, a more than $8 million renovation project got underway in June.
“Students will see new heat and A/C, much better circulation and new ceilings in all the hallways,” Superintendent Dr. Phillip Thornton said.
In fact, so much work is being done that one of the workers joked that it’s like they’ve constructed a brand new building inside the walls of the old one.
During a tour of the school on Friday, Thornton told Eyewitness News the multi-phase project is ahead of schedule.
A big part of the work being done is installing a brand new HVAC system throughout the entire school, according to Glenn Ahlborg, who’s heading up the project.
“It’s a tremendous undertaking,” Ahlborg said. “You’re going to have a complete new supply system bringing in fresh air, as well as exhaust air.”
An air quality test at the school back in April revealed elevated levels of carbon dioxide in some classrooms, which the report said can lead to headaches and drowsiness.
“It’s a big necessity to bring in fresh air. That creates a better learning environment,” Warwick Schools’ construction coordinator, Bob Corrente, added. “Kids are getting fresh air, the old air is being taken out of the building. It’s just a much better environment for children to be in.”
All of the duct work is still covered in protective wrapping to make sure that when school starts in the fall, no construction dust will be pumped through the building.
In addition to the HVAC system, workers are installing a new elevator that’s compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards and new lighting throughout the school.
“When the daylight is bright enough it turns the lighting off,” Corrente said. “We’re rolling that out throughout the district, not just here at Vets.”
Construction inside the building is expected to be completed by the start of the school year. After that, work will be done on equipment on the roof that won’t impact classrooms and next summer, the boiler will be replaced.