For me, going back to Newton North High School was a step into the future.
After opening Tuesday, the most expensive high school in the state — at $197 million — is a model of modernity.
When I attended Newton North about six years ago, the school was in disrepair. Leaking hallways, a crumbling stadium, moldy rugs and window-less rooms. The school was an embarrassing pockmark on Newton’s otherwise pristine image of manicured lawns and magnificent houses.
After almost a decade of political maneuvering, the city decided to abandon the old campus and build a new one. Planners hoped to build a state-of-the-art school.
After going back to visit my “old” school, I can say the city succeeded.
Students used to have to dress in layers, like mountaineers, because of fluctuations in temperature from classroom to classroom. Now, the campus is climate-controlled.
The old school was dark and dingy. Inside, I felt like Jonah swallowed by the whale. Now, there are windows. Glorious, natural light.
And we had a good excuse for being late. Visitors to the old Newton North needed a trained Sherpa guide — or at least a sophomore — to find any room.
Newton North has always been proud to produce great athletes, actors and musicians. Now the city has put its money where its mouth was and built astounding facilities for extracurricular activities. If the students perform as well as the campus looks, the Tigers should win every state championship this year and produce Broadway-quality theater.
There is no denying that the old school had character. The new school does, too — just a nicer, friendlier character. With wide open spaces, plenty of natural light, the school is finally an environment conducive to learning.
Was Newton North worth the $197 million price tag? Absolutely.
This program aired on August 31, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.