Worcester breaks ground on new South High Community School

For years, South High Community School has served as a critical link from home and schooling to work and life in the larger community of Worcester, Massachusetts. Built in 1976, the current school is a three-level, 246,000 square foot open-classroom building on a 43-acre site, with core academic areas, gymnasium, library and auditorium. The facility has an on-site health clinic, food pantry filled daily with locally-donated items for students to take home, along with a non-profit clothing store. The current facility also supports South High’s athletic program, marching band, Diesel Program and Special Education and ELL Programs.

The school has experienced significant growth in enrollment and over the course of its existence has added a number of academic and community programs. The school, however, has reached its capacity to support this growth and a number of deficiencies has impeded on the school’s ability to optimally deliver its education program. South High Community School was in a need of a larger, modern school building with enough space to effectively carry out its mission and ensure Worcester’s students are well prepared to join the work force and embrace their civic responsibility.

On August 23, 2018, the construction of a new South High Community School officially commenced. The Worcester City Council, South High Community School Committee, state senators and house representatives, as well as Congressman James McGovern and Worcester Superintendent Maureen Binienda, gathered for a ceremonious ground breaking. CBRE | Heery along with Lamoureux Pagano Associates, project architect, and Fontaine/WT Rich, LLC, construction manager at-risk, were recognized for the team’s collaborative approach toward reaching this milestone. The event celebrated this new chapter for South High Community School, which was made possible in 2015, when the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) accepted to fund a new $210 million, 359,994 square foot facility that will accommodate 1,420 students along with South High’s educational programs and community services.

Photo courtesy of Lamoureux Pagano Associates

CBRE | Heery’s Boston team is overseeing the project as the Owner’s Project Manager. Construction is taking place on the same site while maintaining the operations of the existing school uninterrupted, which is extremely important due to the extensive special needs programs located at this facility.

This is the second high school project which CBRE | Heery has managed for the City of Worcester, following the completion of the new Worcester Technical High School located in Green Hill Park. The replacement facility for South Community High School will not only meet the educational needs of the students and staff but will also be a durable and low-maintenance facility to ease the pressure on the school departments limited operational resources. CBRE | Heery is expending considerable efforts to review all building materials, systems and controls to maximize the long-term value of this sizeable capital investment by the taxpayers of Worcester.

The new school is designed with four levels and consists of a main building core, including a gymnasium, auditorium, cafeteria, and media center. The academic portion of the building can be isolated/secured to allow the community access to these areas. A connecting accessway directs students into separate academic wings by discipline and grade. The design also delivers on a promise to provide flexible, modern spaces for the school’s Culinary Arts, Diesel Technology, and Early Education and Care programs. An on-site day care center and the school’s existing Andy’s Attic clothing donation program will be fully accommodated in the new building.