Old Town High School students leave their mark on future art, science building

Old Town High School student Lauren Tibbits (left), 15, signs her name on one of the last two steel beams lifted onto the school's science and art expansion wing on Tuesday. Fellow students Karah Hussey (center), 14, and Rachel Martin (right), 15, watch Tibbits after signing their own names.
Old Town High School student Lauren Tibbits (left), 15, signs her name on one of the last two steel beams lifted onto the school's science and art expansion wing on Tuesday. Fellow students Karah Hussey (center), 14, and Rachel Martin (right), 15, watch Tibbits after signing their own names.
Posted Dec. 13, 2011, at 6:13 p.m.
Old Town High School students watch as Nickerson and O'Day workers fix one of the final beams to the structure. Students signed their names on the beam and attended the "topping-off" ceremony, where construction crews finished the skeleton of the school's new science and art expansion wing.
Old Town High School students watch as Nickerson and O'Day workers fix one of the final beams to the structure. Students signed their names on the beam and attended the "topping-off" ceremony, where construction crews finished the skeleton of the school's new science and art expansion wing.

OLD TOWN, Maine — The skeleton of Old Town High School’s new science and art wing is in place after just three months of construction, and the names of many of the school’s students will be part of the building for as long as it stands.

Each of the high school’s 600 students had the chance to sign one of the final two steel beams of the building’s frame, which Nickerson & O’Day Inc. lifted into place during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

A group of 15 students attended the “topping-off” ceremony. They added the last few signatures to the beams before giving the crane operator the signal to raise the pieces of steel and move them into place.

“We’re proceeding at a record progress,” said Karl Ward, president and CEO of Nickerson & O’Day. Construction is scheduled to wrap up in August 2012, allowing the school to move in students, faculty and equipment by Aug. 20.

The building will include six science labs, two art rooms and an applied sciences lab, which will be home to “shop-type” classes, according to RSU 34 Superintendent David Walker.

Voters in RSU 34, which includes Old Town, Alton and Bradley, approved the $5.3 million expansion project in February.

The school district used no state funding for the expansion and received a zero-percent qualified school construction bond through the federal stimulus package, Walker said.

Originally, the Old Town High School’s labs were supposed to be renovated, but closer examination of the 1950s-era rooms showed that an upgrade would be too costly, according to Walker.

The school also has had to rely on portable buildings to house some classes. These portables don’t have bathrooms or running water and force students to walk outside to get to and from classes.

“This project offers a solution to both those issues,” Walker said.

Walker said he was thrilled that this year’s students had the chance to leave their mark on the new facility.

However, some students left other notes, including one next to a hole at the end of a steel beam that reads: “Bolt goes here.”

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