Categorized | NEWS

Celebrating Central High School’s 150 Years

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin

Article and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Central High School greater community gathered on Thur., May 18 for a special 150th birthday party picnic on their new plaza. The party was hosted by the Transforming Central Committee, a community effort to reshape the urban landscape of Central High School. The committee’s long-term goals have been to improve the students’ daily experience, to address the environmental impact of the campus, and to deepen the connection between the school and its surrounding neighborhood.

The new plaza consists of two rain gardens, two tree trenches, pervious pavers, and a rain collection system embedded in the lawn surface. This project included funding from the Legacy Amendment and was made it possible by combining local dollars with state funding.

Photo left: Photographer Chris Faust (pictured right) explained the Knight Foundation-funded project called Central Then and Now. A former Central parent, Faust worked with the Minnesota Historical Society to locate photos from Central’s past. He then created complementary images from the present, to be paired with those from the past.



Photo right: Two of the many banners from the Central Then and Now Project. At left, an industrial arts class from 1957. At right, an industrial arts class from 2017.






Photo left: The Walker West Jazz Ensemble consists of one Highland and three Central High School students.





Photo right: Parent volunteer Deb Ahlquist said, “The transformation project has been going on for a long time. In Parent Advisory Committee meetings, there was talk years ago about the grounds and the entryway looking increasingly shabby. We also knew we had a bad storm water run-off issue. One of the biggest student concerns was the footpath from the front door that runs north along Lexington Pkwy. It was icy in the winter and muddy in the spring and fall; now it’s paved.

Photo left: Chalk artists Emily Pech (left), and Mayra Moreno (right), CHS sophomores, were two of many students who decorated the plaza.




Photo right: Jessica Bromelkamp, Communications and Outreach Director for the Capitol Region Watershed District, in front of one of the plaza’s two rain gardens. She explained, “The Transform Central Committee wanted to improve their campus, and we wanted to clean up the storm water. They contacted us in 2012; we provided grants for feasibility and design in 2013. The project was completed last fall. All practices on-site have the same goal: to intercept rain water coming off the roof and other hard surfaces before it reaches the storm water system. These improvements will result in capturing and filtering 1.4 million gallons of water each year.”

Photo below: The transformed plaza in front of Central High School with rock benches for seating, better lighting, and vastly improved storm water capture and filtering to benefit water quality. Major plaza funders include the Capitol Region Watershed District, the State of Minnesota, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Mardag, and the St. Paul Foundation.

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