Cavalier Construction : What to Know for Back-to-School


Nataly Leiva

Construction has initiated in the pavilion and will perhaps progress once school begins.

The beginning of the 2019-2020 school year will be an eventful one as a result of the major construction taking place to renovate the campus. The renovations, which aim to improve the student learning environment, were made possible by funds raised through the GOB program that allocated $11.2 million dollars toward this project.

The renovation process will include improvements such as new piping, electrical renovations, security system upgrades, painting, window replacements in the old buildings and the creation of a new two-story building near the student parking lot. The most drastic change of them all, the new two-story building, will replace buildings six and seven.

Remodeling will take approximately three years to complete, but it will mark major improvements in the safety and physical appearance of the nearly 70-year-old school.

“The major benefit of the construction is that we will have a more up-to-date school that  strives to improve and create an atmosphere to welcome both new students and others that have been here for a longer while,” sophomore Joana Ponce said.

Coral Gables Senior High School
This is the projection of how the new building will look after construction is completed.

This lengthy project has been separated into three major phases. Phase one aims to improve environmental structures by adding new roofing and reinforcements in areas of heavy student traffic like the pavilion and the second building. Phase one is underway, as demonstrated by the newly painted interior hallways, refurnished exterior, and new piping in progress near the pavilion.

Phase two outlines a plan to demolish buildings six and seven to build a new two-story building in their place and improve air conditioning quality throughout the school. Once the demolition of buildings six and seven begins, classes in the business hall,  the Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) and the Gablettes will be temporarily relocated to other classrooms throughout the school.

“The JROTC room has been around for decades and it’s really sad to see it go. We use the room for everything whether that be changing for practice, having meetings, or eating lunch. It acts as a workplace for us. However, because it has been around for so long, it has deteriorated immensely. So, I think it will be a nice change for the program to have a new room in the future. It will be hectic to get there, but in the long run the room will be more orderly,” senior Annie Laroche said.

Phase three plans a revision of the school’s auditorium and gymnasium. Some of these revisions may include exterior and interior painting.

Nataly Leiva
Some high traffic areas like the pavilion and its entrance are temporarily closed due to construction. Once school begins, this will affect the students’ transitions between classes.

Although the renovation is long overdue, it is going to positively impact the generations of Cavaliers to come. There are many adjustments to be made for students, parents and faculty while the project is underway.

Parents will only be permitted to drop off or pick up their children along the strip near the baseball field on Riviera Street, near the main entrance of the school or near the entrance of the teacher parking lot located on Le Jeune Road.

The student parking lot has reduced the number of available parking decals to 151. Although this is more parking than other high schools offer, it is less parking than the campus is used to having. Consequently, parking passes will be given out on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis in the following order: Seniors and Juniors in the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program, seniors, juniors, and—if any space remains—sophomores.

“It is no secret that parking will impose a burden on Gables’s students as a large portion of us do commute to school. I feel that there will certainly need to be a lot of understanding on behalf of the school’s staff this upcoming school year as a lot of students’ only option is to drive to school,” senior Daniella Berrospi said.

Although the Coral Gables Senior High School administration has attempted to reach out to nearby businesses regarding the issue of limited student parking, the attempts have been largely fruitless. The nearby St. Mark’s Lutheran Church of Coral Gables also struggles with the issue of limited parking due to their new daycare and was unable to allot any space to high school students. The Shops at Merrick Park, a mall on the opposite side of Le June Road, has agreed to supply parking for teachers and staff at a price of $118 per month, but has no space available for daily student parking.

Despite the apparent inconveniences, the staff of Coral Gables High School continue to look for any way they can make the adjustments to the changing campus easier for students.

According to the school website, there is an entire three-pronged procedure set in motion to avoid any disruption or obstacles in the environment. The administration has put this plan in place to avoid overcrowding in the hallways affected by heavy construction, noise disturbance during school hours and blocked pathways between campus buildings.

One of the most noteworthy changes in daily student life is the new procedure for ascending and descending the stairs of the Ralph Moore Building. Due to the increased amount of foot traffic in the area, the center (spiral) stairs of this ninth campus building will be used only as an entrance to the building. To exit the building, or head down to a lower level, students will take the stairs on the east side, near the Le Jeune parking lot.

Daniel Toll
The construction for the new building has begun and is obtaining a section of the student parking lot.

Students who have classes located far away from each other will now have to take the longer paths. Because of this inconvenience, Assistant Principal Mr.Hernandez  has considered adding an additional two minutes to transitions between classes at the expense of student lunchtime.

“The only way to add those two minutes is by shaving lunch and I don’t want to do that. That means removing four minutes from each lunch to add two minutes to each transition. If that construction is not done, it may happen,” Assistant Principal Mr. Hernandez said.

For the next generation of Cavaliers, this construction will not only make the school more appealing both inside and out, but it would more importantly make the school safer: new roofing which will prevent any leaking during rainy days, new plumbing that gives the school access to cleaner water, improved air conditioning in older buildings and safer windows.

In the meantime, staying informed on construction-related announcements will ease students’ transitions during the hectic back-to-school days. To make sure all potential drivers are up-to-date on the new parking rules construction has necessitated for the 2019-2020 school year, Principal Adolfo Costa will be holding a brief meeting on Monday Aug. 19 in the auditorium. The meeting will begin at 2:20 p.m. Make sure to attend if you or your friends are planning on driving to school this year!