WINNETKA – New Trier Township High School welcomed the community to tour the brand new West Building at its Winnetka campus on October 15, celebrating the completion of a renovation project that broke ground in spring 2015 and was completed in two phases.
From the outside, the east campus’s new West Building seamlessly blends in with the original structure, with a matching brick exterior and uniform windows. Only the North Entrance, a glass extension that sheds light throughout the West Building, is an indication that something is new at New Trier.
The new West Building stands where the 1912 cafeteria, 1931 Tech Arts Building and 1950 Music Building, once stood.
People of all ages came to the dedication ceremony, where Dr. Linda Yonke — the former superintendent of New Trier who oversaw much of the project’s completion — gave an overview. New Trier alumnus Dr. Peter Blair Henry, dean of New York University’s Stern School of Business, gave the keynote address, and Greg Robitaille, school board president, shared his remarks.
The administration, school board, community and students were excited to see the completion of this much-anticipated project. As visitors wandered the West Building, many people remarked how it looked and felt like a college campus.
“It is very like a university style and very well planned. There is a nice flow to everything,” Susan Cummins, a Wilmette resident, remarked as she toured the library.
The West Building’s open layout provides many places for students to find reprieve during the day. The building was designed by Wight & Company on the same footprint of the original buildings, but nearly doubles the amount of useable space, according to the brochure handed out at the open house.
The east campus’s West Building is five levels, including a lower level where the student center, Hayes-McCausland Theatre, Applied Arts Labs, and Culinary Court are located. The Hayes-McCausland Theatre — dedicated to late New Trier graduates Mary Catherine Hayes and Sarah Christine McCausland — is a black box theatre that provides limitless possibilities. The Hayes and McCausland families initiated a fundraising campaign called “Raise the Stage” that fully outfitted the theatre.
The Applied Arts Labs, which includes hands-on classrooms for engineering, architecture, automotive and design classes, are inspiring. Spacious wooden tables surrounded by stools are throughout the classrooms, where many power tools are available for students to use. Automotive engines are available for tinkering, as well as bicycles that hang from the ceiling. Visitors wrote on a dry erase board: “We’re impressed! “and “We didn’t have this in ’75!” and “Nor in 1958!”
The Culinary Court where students take cooking electives looks straight out of an HGTV studio set. Large granite islands are well stocked, each with a colorful KitchenAid mixer at the ready. A flat-screen TV mounted over an island allows teachers to demonstrate techniques.
The first floor includes another intimate theatre for performances and speakers, as well as rehearsal classrooms for the school’s music program. The spacious new cafeteria opens up to the Library Commons on the second floor — students can climb the stadium stairs that lead up to the library or use them as a gathering spot. The modern library includes plenty of comfortable seating and small rooms where students can study, as well as a nod to the past with the inclusion of the original brick fireplace from the 1912 cafeteria. The second floor also includes numerous small rehearsal classrooms for the school’s choral program.
The Mischler family of Wilmette walked past the technology support bar that sits just outside of the Library Commons. The accessible space is available for the 5,000 technology users on the campus.
“I think it is amazing. I am so impressed and excited for the kids and so glad the community was willing to make this kind of investment,” Mande Mischler told DailyNorthShore.
Light-filled classrooms for core academics are on the third, as well as science labs and classrooms for New Trier’s interdisciplinary Integrated Global Studies School. Ample space for students to collaborate in groups sits just outside the classrooms. The fourth floor includes art studios, as well as two green roofs where students can get fresh air outside, each made possible through $100,000 donations from Girls’ Club and Tri-Ship, as well as the New Trier Educational Foundation.
Sarah Kelly, a Wilmette resident, said she looks forward to sending her children, who are in grades fourth and second grades and preschool, to New Trier one day. “It is beautiful. I went here in the 1990s and it was vastly different. It is very college-like and very impressive,” she said.