SOUTHINGTON - As Mike Sciota walked in and out of classrooms at Kennedy Middle School Sunday afternoon, he remembered his first day as a teacher in 1964, when the school was first built. "This was a combination of cooking and sewing classes back in the day," Sciota said to his wife Anne as they walked around the newly-renovated building.
About 100 people toured Kennedy during an event celebrating the completion of renovations at both middle schools. Similar tours were given at DePaolo Middle School later in the afternoon. Before the tours, members of the Middle School Building Committee and Board of Education spoke to the crowd about the multi-year project.
"I didn't realize it was going to be a long road for myself and my committee," said Ed Pocock, the chairman of the building committee.
The project started off with an $85 million budget. Shortly after the work started in 2012, polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs, were found in the caulking around windows, doors, and other areas at both schools. This discovery added another $4.7 million to the price tag.
"The citizens of the town of Southington really showed how important education is to them." said State Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington.
Board of Education chairman Brian Goralski said the buildings signify the "future of (the) community."
Sixth-grade student Joseph Morales showed his grandmother, Barbara Prisco, around Kennedy. "I remember it here when I was in junior high," said Prisco. "I think it's plush, these kids have it good."
Students led some of the guided tours. "We feel more comfortable and relaxed. It's a relaxed environment," said Lizy Beaulieu, a seventh grade student at Kennedy who was showing one of the new classrooms and furniture.
As he continued on the tour, Sciota mentioned changes to the building since 1964. "It's breathtaking," he said. "It's absolutely beautiful," added Anne Sciota.
By Farrah Duffany, Record-Journal staff