Port High ready to unveil

School to host open house, holiday concert in centerpiece of $45.6 million makeover

WITH A LARGE Pirates logo at his feet, Port Washington-Saukville School Supt. Michael Weber stood in the commons in the new central part of Port Washington High School Tuesday. Behind him are the upper and lower cafeterias. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Essentially completed months ahead of schedule, the centerpiece of Port Washington High School’s $45.6 million makeover will be unveiled during an open house and holiday band concert Thursday, Dec. 13.

Beginning at 6 p.m., the public is invited to gather in the commons and explore the new central part of the school that in addition to a sprawling gathering place includes new offices, upper and lower cafeterias, a three-court gym that features an arena-style main court, band and choir rooms and a renovated auditorium, which is now part of what is referred to as the Port Washington High School Performing Arts Center.

Students will be available to guide guests through the school, Port Washington-Saukville School Supt. Michael Weber said.

“People will be free to walk around the school or they may just want to spend all their time in the commons because it’s such a marvelous space,” he said.

At 7 p.m., after a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, the school’s bands will present a holiday concert — the first performance in the new performing arts center.

Although the oldest part of the school was demolished to make way for the new facilities, the auditorium remained but was gutted. New seating, wall and ceiling acoustic panels and state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems have been installed.

“The kids are really excited,” Band Director Chris Clouthier said. “The lighting and audio systems will be so improved.”

Music students were also excited at the beginning of the school year to move into the new band and choir rooms, which are a drastic departure from the old, cramped classrooms that flanked the auditorium, Clouthier said.

“We’ve gone from a windowless box with a tired floor that made it seem even smaller to a spacious room with huge windows and great acoustics,” he said.

The old music rooms and surrounding area have been converted into a black box theater for rehearsals and small performances, dressing rooms and a prop storage area.

When school officials first envisioned a high school project that included the construction of a three-story academic wing built into the hill on the west side of the school, which opened last school year, and a new central part of the building that required extensive demolition, no one predicted it would be completed in time for a December 2018 unveiling.

“When you start talking about tearing down a 1931 section of a building, you’re never sure what you’re going to find,” Weber said. “But as the project moved along, we just kept picking up time until now we’re four months ahead of schedule. 

“It’s really been quite a remarkable experience.”

On Monday, basketball teams began practicing in the new gym and administrators and staff members began moving into their new offices.

The first basketball game in the new gym is scheduled for Dec. 14. A formal dedication of the facility is planned for Jan. 11, when the Pirates boys’ and girls’ teams meet Grafton in a coed doubleheader.

And next week, students will dine in the new cafeterias for the first time — juniors and seniors in the upper cafeteria and freshmen and sophomores in the lower cafeteria, both of which feature a wall of south-facing windows.

Work will then begin on converting the makeshift cafeteria in the academic wing into foreign language classrooms.

“If you think about it, this all began in 2015 with the referendum, and at that time is seemed like it was going to take a long time,” Weber said. “But it’s gone by really quickly. It’s been an exciting process.”

In April 2015, voters approved a $49.4 million referendum that in addition to financing the high school project provided $3.8 million for an addition and renovations to Dunwiddie Elementary School.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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