School renovations to focus on planetarium and tennis courts

A nicer planetarium, new tennis courts, and better labs.

The Capital Improvements Program will soon be starting renovation work to make these newer facilities available to students during the next school year.

“The Capital Campaign picks projects for the year,” said William Stafford, Chief Financial Officer. “This year, we’re focusing on the planetarium as the main one.”

Evanston has embarked on a five-year program called the Capital Improvements Program, where the campus will be renovated and improved. Started in the 2013-14 school year, the program focuses on making the school more functional and available for students.

According to Stafford, the CIP program was developed to improve student achievement. The program hopes that strong leadership and financial opportunities help to improve that achievement.

“It’s not just stars now. This is a much more sophisticated system. We’ll be able to teach other classes, like Geoscience and Biology,” said Stafford. “We’re putting in a new dome, new seats with desks, new sound systems. There will be a lot of new learning software.”

The new technology will help not just science classes, but others as well.

According to an article by Evanston Now, classes will be able to experience classes with a 3D projection system. For example, a biology class could explore heart chambers, while a computer class could create a virtual environment.

Peyton Miller, a junior currently taking Astronomy, looks forward to the new planetarium.

“I think the renovations will be really beneficial to the astronomy program,” said Miller. “We were only able to use the planetarium once before the projector broke. The quality [of the videos] was definitely not good, the stars were sometimes wobbly, and it did break, so clearly it’s ready for an upgrade.”

“The program will overall take about $30 million,” said Stafford. “Currently within the program, the school spends between $3-4 million a year. We should be using around $4 million, but right now, we can only afford about $2 million.”

“This should all be done by the beginning of the next school year,” said Stafford. “That’s not to say we won’t have delays, but we’re trying to have everything done by mid-August.”

Another big renovation the school is focusing on is the tennis courts, redoing them and even adding a restroom.

“The tennis courts were just in terrible shape,” said Stafford. “We believe they’re just not safe. One of the ways we pick what to renovate is by what is in the worst shape. We’ll begin work on them as soon as tennis season ends.”

“It’s hard to decide what to prioritize on, but we try to pick projects that will benefit students most,” said Stafford. “More and more kids are interested in Astronomy, so the planetarium was an important one.”

The school also plans to add a permanent Geometry in Construction site, as well as redoing the manufacturing labs in the school.

According to Stafford, several companies have donated equipment to help with these modifications, including Illinois Tool Works, as well as the company that first implemented the planetarium in 1968.

Previous renovations and additions to the school through the CIP program include the Hub and the Welcome Center, introduced this school year.

Computer rendered design for the Lake St. Tennis courts
Computer rendered design for the Lake St. Tennis courts