FIRST LOOK: Saxe Middle School Addition, Renovated Auditorium [PHOTOS]

District officials on Tuesday gave local media outlets a tour of the widely anticipated addition and nearly finished renovation of the auditorium at Saxe Middle School—an estimated $18.6 million project (including the “right-sizing” of overcrowded music rooms, now underway) that’s expected to come in at about $18.2 million.

Built onto the school’s northwestern corner in the middle school’s traditional red brick, the new classrooms, common areas, staircases and hallways are naturally and brightly lit on all four sides—thanks in part to large windows, glass dividing walls between some classrooms, clerestories and a new courtyard created where the existing building meets the addition (see photo gallery above).

The tour was led by Penny Rashin, a Board of Education member who chaired the Saxe Building Committee, and she was accompanied by fellow committee member Molly Ludtke, Principal Greg Macedo, Assistant Principal Dr. Steven Clapp and New Canaan Public Schools Director of Communications Michael Horyczun.

“We are so appreciative of the support that the town bodies—the Board of Selectmen, Town Council and Board of Finance—and the community have given this project, because we really think it sets Saxe up for success for the next 10 to 20 years,” Rashin said. “You can see the exciting opportunities for education that are going to occur here, so we appreciate all the community support.”

Other members of the Saxe Building Committee include Vice Chairman Jim Beall, Secretary Ken Campbell, Dr. Jo-Ann Keating, Amy Murphy Carroll, Alan Sneath and Bill Walbert. Advisory members include NCPS Manager of Facilities Operations Dan Clarke, Board of Ed member Hazel Hobbs, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi and Macedo.

The two-story classroom addition includes four art rooms, three science technology engineering and mat (STEM) rooms and a STEM lab on the first floor, and nine general classrooms and break-out space for small group study on the second floor.

The committee broke ground on the project last summer. The project’s architect is JC Architecture, owner’s rep SLAM Construction Services, construction manger O&G Industries and environmental consultant Tighe & Bond.

New Canaan’s public funding bodies, the Town Council and Board of Finance, each unanimously supported the project following well-attended public hearings in the fall of 2015, at which dozens of galvanized parents and other residents, including some students, spoke out in favor of it.

The need for the addition grew out of well-documented overcrowding at Saxe, a school built for 1,200 students that during the academic year which starts Wednesday will see about 1,340 kids in attendance.

Officials estimate that Macedo and the Saxe faculty had to make 70-plus adjustments to accommodate the fifth- through eighth-graders at the school prior to the addition—including small-section instruction such as in special ed held in hallway alcoves and converted closets.

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