For 90 years, 220 N. Pennsylvania Ave. has been home for the Quakers of Eastern High School in Lansing. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, Eastern will move less than a mile down the road to where Pattengill Middle School is located. This past year, school district voters approved a bond of $120 million to renovate Pattengill into a suitable high school environment.
“We will be adding more than 500 students to the existing building,” said Marcelle Carruthers, principal of Eastern High School, “the renovation plans will make the school more suitable to the influx of students entering.”
The facilities will include a new community clinic, gym and a new laboratory wing. Eastern High School is becoming a Biomed pathway for students who want to pursue careers in the medical field. The one-story laboratory wing will include four new labs. Also, the plan will transform the current library into a media center with computers and other modern tools.
Architect for the project Robert McGraw says the mission of the renovation is to make the new high school more modern to accommodate students’ needs.
Nadine Pivetta-Schneiderman, who lives in the community, said Eastern will become “a gem” in the Lansing school district.
“I think your environment plays a big part on how you will perform in school,” said Pivetta-Schneiderman. “With these new facilities and technology and lab, it sounds unbelievable.”
The construction will begin in spring 2019, but the foundation and excavation period will begin when students begin summer vacation.
Sports Facility Addition
The academic facilities will not be the only aspect of the school that will change. The school will also be adding a larger athletic area. The changes include a new football field, track, tennis courts and softball field.
“The showpiece of the new project will be the new soccer and football fields,” said project manager Rusty Owens. “The football field will be the only one in the district with a synthetic turf field.”
Officials hope that athletic renovations will help Eastern compete at the high level it once did back in the 1970s and ‘80s. During construction athletic teams will have to find a temporary place to practice and compete, such as Sexton High School, one of the school’s biggest rivals.
LuAnn Schwab lives next to Pattengill and is excited to see the change.
“My home backs right into the fence where all the practice fields are,” Schwab said. “It’s wonderful. It’s great to see the kids out there practicing now, and I am glad to see that will be able to continue.”
Parking seems to be the other issue the plan will solve. With more students and better academic and athletic facilities comes more traffic around the school. The proposed plan ensures that traffic will flow in from the northeast entrance of the football field and will exit just south of the baseball field.
Owens says the plan will continue to change until he and his crew find a perfect solution to problems that will affect the project.
Carruthers explained that he believes the school will not only attract students to get involved with the sports teams but with programs like science and chemistry with the help of new and improved education wings.
Future of Lansing Schools
The renovation of the new Eastern High School has high hopes to bring more students and families back to the Lansing district. Since the beginning of schools of choice in the late 1990s, the Lansing school district has lost hundreds of students each year to different districts.
Information manager for the Lansing School District Eldon McGraw says that the moving of a school like this brings more opportunities to the City of Lansing, and there are incentives that hopefully will attract students.
One incentive McGraw is referring to is the Lansing Pathway Promise. The promise is a way for students to earn an edge for college readiness by providing internships, mentoring programs and other career-enhancing opportunities. When students are nearing graduation, each student in the district will be eligible for scholarships to Lansing Community College, Michigan State University and Olivet College. This promise is just one more way for students to have more reliability with the Lansing School District.
“These construction efforts are not for bettering our school district,” says Lansing School Board Vice President Dr. Nino Rodriguez, “We are working for our children to be number one in the world, not our schools.”
Eastern High School will find its new home during the fall of 2019, and provide the community with a better path of education for years to come.