CHESHIRE -- Officials say that after one year of operation, the renovated Hoosac Valley Middle-High School is a hit with both students and teachers.
Principal Vinnie Regan, who just completed his first full year serving at the school, said one of the greatest advantages is state-of-the-art technology.
"You can use interactive technology for things like science," Regan said. "It's a good hook for kids. It also allows us to do things that weren't possible before."
Students can even perform virtual dissections using computers, Regan said, so the school doesn't need to purchase animals.
"Instead of just speaking about a topic, they can show it," he said. "It's helping all kinds of diverse learners."
The facility, which opened in September 2012 after a year-long $40 million renovation, features modern computer and science labs for grades 6 to 12.
Adams-Cheshire Regional School District Superintendent Kristen Gordon said some kinks are still being worked out.
"We do have some glitches with the Smartboards, laptops and computers," Gordon said. "It was nothing on our end. Our technology department has worked feverishly to solve whatever they can."
School officials have worked closely with engineers from Apple, she said.
Gordon, former principal at C.T. Plunkett Elementary School in Adams, said the renovation has increased the number of students choosing to enroll in the high school. It was one of her goals when she entered the position in the fall, she said.
"I don't have the exact numbers, but it looks like a lot of things we put in place are keeping students here," she said.
Gordon said officials are also getting creative with its course selection -- the school doesn't currently offer Latin, she said, but could using a remote classroom with another school.
"Another good aspect is that we're able to share staff," she said. "We've had middle school teachers teach at the high school, high school teachers teach at the middle school."
The new facility has opened up more opportunities for extra curricular activities at the school, Gordon said. The district plans on applying for a grant to fund after-school programs for the middle grades, she said, as none are currently offered. Potential activities could include intramural sports, dance and even woodshop, she said.
The school also received Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the second-highest energy efficiency certification a building can reach.
"I love the school because it's really become a community center," Gordon said. "It's busy all the time. You can go up at 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. and there's always something going on."
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