Freshly painted walls, spotless wooden floors, state-of-the-art equipment and technology are exactly what awaited Friends of Gables High members, Coral Gables Senior High faculty and Mari Tere Rojas when they took a tour of the new Building Six. Monday, Feb. 22., was a day anticipated by FOGH, the non-profit organization created to help maintain Gables both physically and academically, as well as Rojas, the Miami-Dade School Board representative, as they finally got to see the progress of a renovation they strongly advocated for in past years. Being a major project, the school remodeling was not an easy task to approve, but fortunately, the attendees finally got to see their hard work pay off.
Principal Ullivarri guided the tour through the building, showing its progress and explaining what different funds had been allocated toward; technologies and other structural aspects were just a few of the things grants were used for. As previous students themselves, the FOGH members shared their perspectives in seeing the quality of the new facilities students were going to receive and how the building would perpetually improve the education of future Cavaliers.
Starting in the cafeteria, Ullivarri led the group around the first floor. With a capacity of 300 persons, the room is built to seat students comfortably during lunchtime and will become the school’s third cafeteria. Proceeding into one of the building’s regular classrooms, Ullivarri explained the importance of having spacious areas for students to work and converse.
Every classroom is equipped with a smartboard and teacher working space. The desks are all either black, red or gray, emblematic of the school colors. The floors were specifically designed to not need waxing in order to save money in the future. Similarly, all classrooms and bathrooms have Light Emitting Diode sensored lights, which helps save energy.
“I see Coral Gables as an established community and Coral Gables Senior High School should definitely reflect that. Friends of Gables High has done a good job at making that happen and that is honestly why they care so much,” Gables alumna, mother of Gables alumna and FOGH board member Jackie Kellog said.
Mr. Curtis, one of Gables’s assistant principals and the school construction overseer, took charge once the visitors entered the dance room. With a wall-length mirror spanning from one end of the room to the next, shiny wood floors and a barre made for dance practice, this room will house seven dance classes and become the new home of the renowned Gablettes.
Once in the ceramics room, Mr. Curtis shared the new facility as he presented spectators with modern equipment and tools. Multiple pottery wheels, along with two brand-new kilns became the topic of attention for onlookers. The art room produced the same amount of commotion as guests turned their eyes to the massive classroom that would soon hold all of Mr. Groff’s art students.
With an initial allocation of 11 million dollars, FOGH was able to raise the renovation budget to a remarkable 30 million dollars. Composed of over three phases, the school renovation has only just begun. Phase two is composed of adding hurricane impact windows and repainting older buildings. Later phases will soon follow suit. The plans even include the addition of a brand-new gymnasium that will be home to the Gables athletic department.
“It is really hard for me to imagine all the changes the school has gone through since I graduated in 1965. Me and my husband have driven by for years and really have not gotten to see the inside and everything that has been done,” FOGH member Dale Dowlen said.
The building is projected to be able to accommodate students and classrooms before the end of the 2020-2021 school year. This means students will have the opportunity to experience the new facility first-hand while taking the same class they are currently enrolled in. Friends of Gables High has contributed to make this vision a reality, and will most likely oversee the official opening of the building when the time comes.