Winnetka, News

New Trier’s new athletics facilities on track for July completion and August debut

Construction on New Trier High School’s extensive and modern athletics wing will be wrapping up in the next month, officials said during a presentation on Monday, June 5, at the board of education meeting.

“Substantial completion” of the 18-month project is on track for July 1 and the facility should be ready for students when school begins in August, said Associate Superintendent Chris Johnson during the meeting.

“We’re pleased to say we’re still on track to complete (the project) on time,” he said.

The new facility, located on the east side of the Winnetka campus, replaces what was the nearly-100-year-old Gates Gymnasium with a new gym, field house, classrooms, and spaces for both kinetic wellness classes and the athletic program.

New Trier officials expect the majority of construction to be complete by July and the facilities to be ready for the new school year.

While most of the work is expected to be done by July 1, Johnson said things will be outstanding. Most notably, he said two air handling units have not been built yet, and they will not be ready until mid-July.

But he said the district has a plan in place so that the delay will not impact the building’s opening.

“We have a temporary install on the roof next week to allow the district to occupy the space,” he said. “It will not adversely impact the experience for staff and students in the building, and there’s no cost to the district for this plan.”

Johnson cited manufacturing delays and a microchip shortage as the reason for the remaining air handling units not being ready.

Besides the air handling units, Johnson said some minor work still remains to be completed in July and August. This includes a high ropes course, an ADA-accessible ramp, signage and the restoration of the north athletic fields, which have been used by the construction team throughout the project.

The school plans to hold a dedication ceremony for the new facility in the fall, said Niki Dizon, the district’s communications director.

In addition to the east side project update, Johnson also previewed the district’s more traditional summer construction projects.

The summer work at the Northfield campus includes the continued installation of solar panels and refurbishing classrooms in the C and E buildings, which Johnson said will mostly consist of furniture additions and technology updates.

At the Winnetka campus, the Bickert Gym roof will be replaced. Johnson said this is the final roof replacement the district is planning for the foreseeable future after years of roof work.

Other district projects include ongoing work at Duke Childs Field in Winnetka and the second phase of work at the district’s Transitions Center in Glencoe.

Choral program gets OK for first Spain trip since 2008

New Trier High School’s choirs are going international.

NTHS Board of Education members on Monday, June 5 unanimously approved a 2024 choir trip to Spain, the program’s first trip there in 15 years.

New Trier choirs have gone on tours together in the past, with the most recent one being in 2008, according to board documents, but a March 2020 trip was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Music and Theatre Department Chair Elizabeth Bennett told the board that the spring break trip to Spain will provide a “unique and wonderful experience” for choral students to both tour the country and perform there as well.

“Part of being in a high school music ensemble is taking what you do outside of … the walls of New Trier, and one of those experiences that is expected and celebrated is bringing it around the world,” she said.

Bennett added, “You can go to Spain as a family. You can go to Spain as a group. But you can’t just go to Spain or any other place and truly learn with a group of your peers like you can in a high school performance ensemble.”

The trip, which will be optional, is set for spring break: March 20-29, 2024. The district will cover travel costs for staff members and on-the-ground group transit,

The cost per student is about $4,150, which will cover airfare, hotel rooms, performances, sightseeing, and breakfasts and dinners. To cover the sum, Bennett also said the choral program is coming up with ideas for fundraisers, which may include a car wash, social media campaigns, and performances at local events.

Board member Avik Das, who said he traveled with the school’s orchestra to New York City this year, asked Bennett what options there were for parents who wanted to come with.

She said that the school will not cover the cost of parent travel, but they are welcome to purchase their own tickets and travel alongside the choir as they go around Spain.

Das praised the proposal for the Spain trip.

“My imagination is just full thinking about what this could be for the students, for the entire experience, for the adults that are there as well,” he said.

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Peter Kaspari

Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.

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