On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District hosted a groundbreaking ceremony as construction at High Point School continued. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and subsequent Executive Orders signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, all commercial construction in Michigan was temporarily paused during the spring, including the abatement at High Point that had commenced on February 12, 2020. Abatement resumed and was completed in May 2020, and demolition began as soon as safely and reasonably possible. The official groundbreaking ceremony was delayed following recommendations by Governor Whitmer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washtenaw County Health Department to minimize in-person gatherings until safer to do so.
“We are excited to resume the construction project at High Point, and we are grateful that we can do so in a way that keeps everyone involved safe and healthy,” stated WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel. Representatives from WISD’s administration and its Board of Education were present for the groundbreaking, as well as partners from the project’s construction management team: Clark Construction, Axiom Construction Services Group, TMP Architecture, and Mitchell and Mouat Architects.
The project delays caused by the pandemic have affected the construction schedule. Originally scheduled to re-open in August 2021, the district now anticipates that the new, reimagined High Point will be ready in November 2021. As the project moves forward, WISD will take multiple factors into account to determine the best start date for students in the new school building, including working with all stakeholders to minimize disruptions to instruction and monitoring the potential for a second spike of COVID-19.
“The High Point program embraces the incredible diversity of our students and is a model of inclusive educational opportunities in our community,” stated Naomi Norman, WISD’s Assistant Superintendent for Achievement and Systems Support and incoming Interim Superintendent beginning July 1, 2020. “I’m looking forward to our High Point students being able to learn in a facility that meets their unique needs.”
WISD Administrators and Board of Education Trustees pictured left to right: Diane Sevigny (Operations Manager), Merri Lynn Colligan (Chief Information Officer), Brian Marcel (Asst. Superintendent), Naomi Norman (Asst. Superintendent), Mary Jo Callan (Board Vice-President), Mary Jane Tramontin (Board Trustee), Steve Olsen (Board Secretary), Scott Menzel (Superintendent), Cherie Vannatter (Asst. Superintendent), and Jennifer Parrelly (High Point Supervisor)
WISD Administrators, Board Trustees, and Construction Management Partners pictured left to right: Deib Mougrabi (Axiom Construction), Diane Sevigny, Merri Lynn Colligan, Brian Marcel, Naomi Norman, John Castellana (TMP Architecture), Mary Jo Callan, Mark Borys (Mitchell and Mouat Architects), Mary Jane Tramontin, Steve Olsen, Scott Menzel, John Mouat (Mitchell and Mouat Architects), Cherie Vannatter, Jennifer Parrelly, and Tanner Rowe (Tanner Construction)
After the completion of abatement, demolition of parts of High Point that will not be renovated has begun! Click here to see the live stream camera of construction progress.
On Tuesday, January 7, 2020, students in the Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s High Point program will begin the second half of their school year on the east side of the county at Ypsilanti Community Middle School @ Willow Run (YCMS @ WR) located at 235 Spencer Lane, Ypsilanti. Due to passage of the WISD’s bond proposal in August 2019, renovation and reconstruction of their campus on Ann Arbor’s west side at 1735 S. Wagner Road is scheduled to begin March 2020, requiring the High Point program to move out before construction.
“It is no small undertaking to move out of a school that has been serving students for 45 years and be ready to begin classes in a new building in about two weeks,” shared WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel. “I’m incredibly proud of our community for supporting our students and of our staff for all their hard work to make this transition successful.”
“One of the most unique aspects of our High Point program is the co-location with Honey Creek. This symbiotic relationship is a critical component of the High Point educational experience, and we believed this needed to continue during the transitional process,” states Superintendent Menzel.
WISD’s DHH and High Point programs and Honey Creek Community School will be temporarily located at YCMS @ WR through June 2021, and expect to re-open at their Ann Arbor campus in September 2021.
A nostalgic evening of laughter, hugs, and storytelling was shared among over 200 visitors in High Point School’s gym on Monday, December 16, 2019. Those in attendance included alumni and current students, staff, and families of High Point, Honey Creek, and Gretchen’s House, as well as community members, who came together to share their memories and see old friends and colleagues as the school kicked off its final week in the building before moving out before reconstruction begins in early 2020.
“It feels like my family has been here forever and we will continue to be involved for a long time,” said Andi Spengler, who has two children each currently enrolled in High Point and Honey Creek, and one who has already graduated from Honey Creek. “Because of High Point, our daughter Emma has made such incredible strides in her growth and development. We will be forever grateful to this community for everything it’s offered our family and will continue to offer for us and families like us in the future.”
In addition to catching up and sharing stories, attendees gathered around photos taken over the last 45 years that were spread throughout the gym. Photographs included key moments of High Point’s history, including construction in 1974, the school’s 30th birthday celebration, and graduation throughout the years. Poignant memories shared by attendees when they registered for the event were also displayed, and others were encouraged to share favorite memories and notes about their times at High Point.
“High Point is a truly exceptional school, and we are thankful for the nearly 45 years we had in this building,” stated Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) Superintendent Scott Menzel. “We’re incredibly thankful to all of you – our High Point, Honey Creek, and Gretchen’s House family – for celebrating with us as we close this chapter and look ahead to a new one.”
High Point School will close at the end of this week leading into the winter break, and classes will resume on January 7, 2020, at the Ypsilanti Community Middle School @ Willow Run. The High Point building will be closed for reconstruction and renovation, and is expected to re-open in September 2021 for the 2021-22 school year.
We are currently in the “design development” phase of the construction project. The architects are working on more detailed drawings so the construction management team will be able to update their cost estimates as we head into the bid phase of the project after the first of the year. Because we are working on an ambitious timeline, we now have weekly High Point Renovation meetings with the architectural team. This week we are meeting at their Bloomfield Hills office to look at sample materials as well as have a conversation on heating/cooling/mechanical/solar aspects of the project.
53 days until the High Point School move commences to our new temporary location at the Ypsilanti Community Middle School @ Willow Run building! Many thanks to our staff members who have been working on sorting through classroom materials to decide what can be discarded, donated, stored, and/or what needs to be moved to the new location. In order to assist in managing the process, WISD hired Jess Stevenson who has experience in facilitating moves from his time as a principal in the Saline school district. Working together we will be prepared for this major mid-year change!
WISD is happy to announce the successful sale of its 2019 School Building and Site Bonds approved by voters on August 6, 2019! The successful bond sale allowed the district to maximize their taxpayer-approved bond initiative generating just shy of $53.295 million in bond proceeds for the upcoming High Point project. Two notable developments occurred during the process. The first includes locking in incredibly low interest rates, which will minimize the financial burden on taxpayers. The second is that about 2% of the sales ($835,000) went to the retail market, which indicates that local investors were able to purchase some of our bonds in addition to institutional investors.
At the Board meeting this past Tuesday evening, contracts were awarded for the renovation work at the Ypsilanti Community Schools Middle School at Willow Run in order to expand the number of bathrooms available for our students when we move at the end of the calendar year. Additionally, a contract was awarded for installation of two playground facilities that will serve our students during our temporary location at that site as well.
Last week on Thursday, October 3, WISD hosted an open house for any community member interested in purchasing the bonds that will benefit the reconstruction of High Point. The open house was held in partnership with Stifel, PFM Financial Advisors, LLC., and Raymond James, and had approximately 20 people. Intentional outreach to local community members so they can learn more about buying bonds sold by their local school district is unique and not typical for schools, and WISD is proud to live up to our values of serving our community.
Additionally, our architectural partners have been seeking input from administration, High Point staff and families on the initial schematic design for New High Point during the past eight weeks since the election in August. The architects now have all of our feedback and will work on finalizing plans for the new building's design over the coming weeks. These plans will formalize the layout for the new building, and future work will be needed to attend to details like furniture and technology.
WISD is partnering with Stifel Public Finance to host a “Tax-Advantaged Municipal Investing Information Night for Upcoming WISD School Building and Site Bonds” on October 3. This event is for WISD staff and families, as well as local residents, to learn more about the opportunity to buy bonds that will support High Point’s reconstruction.
When? Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 6:00-7:00 pm
Where? WISD Teaching and Learning Center, Vogel Room A
Who? Anyone interested in learning more about buying bonds to support High Point’s reconstruction
Please RSVP to Corina Williams at (517) 381-1230 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saving Memories and Memorabilia
With only a few short months left at High Point before construction begins, we need your help to save meaningful memorabilia! The district wants to preserve important items that can be saved for the new High Point building. If you know of any memorial rocks, memorial trees, memorial plaques, special tiles, etc., please email High Point Supervisor Jennifer Parrelly at email@example.com.
We have a very ambitious timeline for the renovation and reconstruction of High Point school! The Board of Education authorized funding for schematic design work before the bond vote in order to allow us to pursue a schedule that will result in a return to the facility in the Fall of 2021. Thank you to all of the High Point, Honey Creek, and Gretchen’s House staff that have provided input into the schematic design process. At this point in the process, we have outlined core spaces to a level of detail that allows for a preliminary budget estimate. We were able to review the budget estimates with representatives from the Construction Management and Architectural teams this past week. The Construction Management team expressed appreciation for how far along the architectural plans are and noted that the level of details yields better cost estimates. The good news is that the estimates are in line with available funding without having to make any major changes to the core blueprint. While there is still a lot of work to do, we are on a positive trajectory and will transition into the “Design Development” phase of the project where the work gets much more detailed.
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