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Upon entering Townsend Harris on the first day of school, returning students noticed a new shadow looming over their heads. The school’s edges are now equipped with black and green scaffolding, altering the complexion of a once familiar building.
The scaffolding exists as a result of construction that is being done to the school’s roof to stop further water leaks from causing damage to rooms.
The construction will only be done when school is not in session, from 3:30 P.M. to 11:00 P.M..
“The roof needed repairing because there were several requests due to major water leaks,” stated Ellen Fee, Assistant Principal of Organization, Health, and Physical Education.
According to Ms. Fee, three major leaks have been reported. The first occurred in room 604 and damaged the science lab.
After that, a leak in the ceiling over the gym caused a section of the floor to bubble six inches above the rest, creating a safety hazard for students. The third report was in room 116, where the water began to flood the closet.
Less severe leaks have been reported in a number of other locations, including rooms 504, 404, the principal’s office, the second-floor girls bathroom, and the basement.
As a result, several custodians requested that the school’s roofs be repaired.
The School Construction Authority (SCA), which manages the construction and renovation of schools in New York City, had to prioritize which jobs they would do on different school buildings.
Townsend Harris was given low priority for seven years, but with the accumulating amount of requests from the school the SCA finally decided to repair it.
To the frustration of many in the school, the repairs did not begin in 2013 as originally scheduled.
Instead, it was pushed back to May 2014 and didn’t begin until August 2014.
School custodians have control over how the look of the construction project as it proceeds. Custodian Gary Viola believes the construction will be done by March 2015.
He added, “As far as I know this is the best school in the city and I am doing everything in my power to keep it that way.”
Since returning to school, students have had to adapt to THHS’s new state.
“I think it looks dark and dreary,” commented senior Mansha Sadh.
“But it’s definitely a creative new look for us.”