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The Student News Site of Ottoson Middle School

The Ottoson Insider

The Student News Site of Ottoson Middle School

The Ottoson Insider

Photo courtesy of Arlington High School Building Project. https://ahsbuilding.org/
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A Guide to the Changes at Arlington High School

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Photo courtesy of Arlington High School Building Project. https://ahsbuilding.org/

Arlington High School (AHS) is the main public school in Arlington for grades 9-12, and is recognized as a U.S. News & World Report Gold Medal school. As of January 2022, 1,538 students were enrolled in AHS, with this number continuously growing. This means that AHS is at “100%” capacity according to the FY2024 APS Superintendent’s Proposed Budget, with 38% of classes having more than 27 students. This also means that there are not enough seats in the cafeteria for everybody. As such, AHS is currently in the middle of a massive renovation, with multiple changes expected. The details of this should be the concern of every resident, since massive amounts of taxpayer money are being spent on this reconstruction.
The project is expected to cost a total of roughly 291 million dollars. Of this, 205 million dollars will come from the town of Arlington, and the remaining 86 million dollars from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
As part of the improvements, classrooms will be larger, better equipped, and more efficient. Additionally, the library, officially known as the Library Learning Commons, will be expanded. The new Performing Arts section also includes an 833-seat acoustically designed auditorium and a 3,000-square-foot-large drama classroom. AHS will also include new outdoor learning areas, such as a large courtyard and an outdoor amphitheater. The renovations will also include improvements to the softball and baseball fields. To help Arlington towards its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050, the new school will feature several sustainability features. These include solar panels on the roof and the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. The new AHS will be more energy efficient, and will be positioned to eventually eliminate fossil fuels as an energy source.
The renovation will be completed over 4 phases. Phase 1, which features the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) and performing arts section, began construction in May 2020, and was completed in February 2022. Phase 4, the final phase, is expected to be completed by September 2025.
There were multiple causes for the improvements, most importantly, the outdated and deteriorating building. AHS was placed on “Warning” status by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, with more than 30% of classrooms being considered “inadequate” for having insufficient space, bad configurations, or visual obstructions, amongst other factors. Old science labs also created hazardous conditions which harmed student’s learning alongside limited meeting spaces and dispersed classrooms. Furthermore, there have been changes to the curriculum since AHS was constructed, which was changed from being centered around learning information to teaching students how to find, analyze, and make decisions based on information. This type of curriculum requires flexible spaces and means that the current building is no longer suitable. Additional problems include a lack of electrical outlets, temperature fluctuations in classrooms, roof leaks, a limited number of elevators, and the large number of entrances that complicate monitoring.
Arlington High School was constructed in 1914, and extended in 1938. As part of this extension, the current Main Office and Collomb House was constructed. There was further work in 1960, and the previous last renovation was in 1981.

Sources:
Arlington High School Building Project
FY2024 APS Superintendent’s Proposed Budget v2023.03.17
Arlington has plans for a new, $291 million high school. Here’s what it would look like.

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