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Construction at Kennedy moves at full tilt to prepare for Thursday’s opening

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Construction is moving ahead at full speed at Kennedy Elementary School in an effort to ready the building for returning students.

Due back Thursday, students will be met with a new addition and plenty of on-going projects scheduled for completion within the next several months.

Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey said they are just waiting on a certificate of occupancy and a final fire and health inspection before they know for certain that the building is ready to accept students.

“All indications at the present time are that it will be ready,” Mr. Vernsey said.

If, for some reason, the opening is delayed, Mr. Vernsey said he would have to “declare an emergency day” that would operate like a snow day.

“The very worst case scenario is that we’d have to not have school at Kennedy Elementary School for a day or two,” he said, adding that there is no other place for the kids to go. School Principal Susan A. Jacobs said she is confident the building will be ready for students on Thursday.

“It probably won’t be easy but we’re going to make do,” she said.

Mr. Vernsey said construction is ongoing on the new gymnasium, band room, chorus room, cafeteria and stage. Those projects are expected to be completed by the time students return from Christmas break, he said.

Mr. Vernsey said students will be fed in two unused classrooms as work on the cafeteria progresses.

Mrs. Jacobs said an additional classroom has been made available as an overflow cafeteria in case there isn’t enough room to comfortably feed everyone in two rooms.

The band and chorus will also practice in spare classrooms until January, Mrs. Jacobs said.

The new addition is complete save for some “small things” that will be finished within the next several weeks, Mr. Vernsey said.

Work on the school grounds will also continue during the coming months, Mr. Vernsey said, adding that he expects the back parking lot to open up by November.

The work at Kennedy, part of a $57 million district-wide renovation project, will see the school increase its capacity from 450 earlier this year to more than 700 by the fall of 2014 after Lincoln Elementary School closes.

Already the school is taking on an additional 85 students after Sherman Elementary School closed in June of this year.

Shawn M. Travers, an architect with Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, said the building should be ready for students on Thursday without too much difficulty. “Everything looks good so far,” he said.

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