Triton Makes Its Way Towards Renovation

The Triton High and Middle school building may be participating in a renovation project in the coming months.

It’s true: the Triton High and Middle School building has passed the first step into getting approved for renovation or reconstruction.

Triton was one of 54 schools that had applied to be a part of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) grant program earlier this year. Triton passed the first round of cuts earlier this month. Now, Triton Superintendent Brian Forget says that 24 schools remain in the running for state funding through the MSBA, including Triton Regional High/Middle School, which is considered a single building. 

In early December, staff and students of Triton will be presented with either good news or bad news. At that point, the district will find out if it will be “welcomed” into the MSBA funding program or not, but Forget emphasized the project has a long way to go. Presented with the new possibility of this project taking place, student Savannah Colbert (junior) of Triton High School is curious as to what this means for the Triton building itself. 

“I know for sure that Triton needs to be renovated,” Colbert said. “I don’t know what the renovation is going to consist of, but I do know that either way, it is going to be very beneficial for Triton.” 

Last April, Triton submitted a Statement of Interest to the MSBA which is an agency of the state that provides funding for these projects. Essentially, only the school committee’s vote to support that submission is needed to submit a Statement of Interest. But all three select boards voted to support the submission of the statement gaining Triton the full ‘go ahead’ to submit it. Triton could qualify for 50 percent to 55 percent of its renovation project to be paid for by the state. A group of architects, engineers, and others visited Triton on Thursday, October 6, for an evaluation of the building. The goal of the tour was for the group to evaluate the Statement of Interest the district had submitted. That day, architects were seen inspecting the walls in the library very intensely while the rest of the group talked with Superintendent Forget and Patrick Kelley, Triton High School’s principal, about the rest of the interior. 

Triton’s present day classes will not be here to see the new changes put into effect. This process is likely to take 5-7 years. If welcomed into the program, April of 2023 will be the beginning of essentially the whole process. Triton will then have nine months to get the details down. In this short time period, Triton has to set up a building committee and figure out whether to fund a feasibility study – a first step in the building project – to decide whether a rebuild or renovation should take place. That study is estimated to cost $1.5 million. The building committee will be selected by the district and made up of parents, students, and local community members. Essentially, Triton will have one to two years to study and come up with the initial plan for the renovation. After that, Forget said that it could take up to three years to renovate and rebuild. 

An earlier study of Triton Middle and High School set the cost of repairing the buildings at $60 million. However, that number might change depending on rising costs and the ultimate scope of the final project. The point is not to just “fix” what needs repair but to study the issues more comprehensively and get the MSBA to pay for nearly half the project. Forget also went on to say that they will be taking a look at the building’s roof, which is a particular concern as well as structural, functional, cosmetic, and aesthetic concerns. 

“A new building changes the way people think about the work they’re doing,” Forget said. “It changes the way you feel and the way you engage with the work itself. 

“Our goal is to, number one, make sure all of the learning spaces meet current needs. The health and safety of the building plays a big part in that and is our biggest priority.” 

Forget went on to explain how Triton science labs are very out of date and are not up to current day standards. They aren’t meeting expectations in size or in setup. Dr. Adam Lothrop, a science teacher at Triton High School, explained the deficiencies of his classroom. 

“I need more space and more materials in order to give students a more hands-on lab experience,” Lothrop said. “I need more lab tables; the ones I have right now are old and one of them is not heat/chemical resistant so I can’t use that one which leaves me with five total lab benches which doesn’t always give students in my class enough space to work.” 

Lothrop continued to say how he needs more outlets in his class. Most of them are old and not working and he needs them to plug in his balances. 

“It’s dodgy which ones work and which ones don’t,” Lothrop said. “I love my room, it has good vibes, but it needs a refresh.” 

Lothrop said it would be beneficial for not only him if his classroom was renovated, but also for his students. When having his students do labs in his classes, he finds that space is the number one problem. If he could have more of it, along with materials, he feels as if his students could gain a better experience while participating in labs and projects. 

It’s not only Lothrop that feels this way about his classroom though. Thomas Horsley, an environmental science teacher at Triton High School and occupant of the classroom beside Lothrop’s, has a very similar opinion on the renovation of Triton as well.

“I think that a renovation would be realistic for our building,” Horsley says. “Us science teachers need more flexibility in our classrooms. We need more lab tables with greater surface areas and sinks that aren’t in the middle of them like they are currently.” 

Dr. Ellen Moore, who is also a science teacher at Triton High School, said she needs more whiteboards as well as deeper sinks. She suggested whiteboard desks and lab benches to give her students the direct accessibility to take down data and facts while actively learning or participating in labs.  Moore also feels as if in all science classrooms at Triton, including her own, there is a divide between the teacher and students because of the placement of the center lab bench the teacher uses for labs and projects. 

Moore and Horsley agreed that moving the lab space both is something they’d hope is a part of the renovation. Horsley, who teaches environmental science, hopes the renovation focuses on the sustainability of the building. Building a greenhouse should be taken into consideration, they said, an addition that would benefit the whole school.