New AHS entrance at night, 2022New AHS entrance at night reflect mystery, and students are learning the reality as they move inside Feb. 28. / Consigli photo

Excitement for some; for others, sentimentality

UPDATED March 4: Arlington High School is taking a first major step Monday, Feb. 28, moving from a World War I-era building to a sleek structure taking shape through 2024.

Students reacted to the move with varied emotions, from excitement to sentimentality, as AHS waves goodbye to Fusco House. 

Fusco House is a town landmark. It's been standing since 1914, when WWI broke out. The building is home to so many quizzes, tests, laughs and memories -- accumulated over the 108 years that the oldest part of AHS has been standing.

Although home to so much memory, AHS is simultaneously falling apart. Buckets are often placed in classrooms collecting dripping water. Tape can be found plastered over windows and doors, in an attempt to hide the broken glass. Tiles on the floor are missing. The bathrooms are embellished with graffiti. In view of that, students find themselves excited to leave some aspects of the old building -- and head into the new one.

Entrance aims to inspire

At the forefront of the new building is a state-of-the-art entrance -- a source of excitement for students. Behind that feeling is the glimmer, gleam, shimmer, squeak and glisten that comes with a new entrance, one that aims to represent the AHS student body. An entrance that, building committee members hope, will inspire those who walk in and impress those who walk by.

Senior Jillian Hinck is excited for the image that the new entrance will project to the community. The other half of the new entrance excitement sources from the lack of accessible entrance in the current building. Because of construction, the main entrance way is blocked off, so it takes additional time to make your way into the school. This walk is on top of the walk from a student’s parked car to school.

As junior Lilia Naylor puts it, “It's been kind of a hassle to go into school.” Hinck notes her disappointment surrounding the lack of student parking in the new building, especially as parking at AHS has long been restricted. Nevertheless, student comments indicate, the new entrance embodies a new era at AHS, and fuels much excitement for students and staff alike. 

The buzz around the new building goes farther than the entrance. The new bathrooms have been a major topic of conversation. Why is that? There’ll be more of them, and they’ll be clean. On any given day, in the old AHS, about three boys' bathrooms and about four for girls are open. Students say that this is a limited number for a school of 1,409 students and staff. 

In addition, the state of the bathrooms in the old AHS is, as freshman Lucy Markelz delicately puts it, “totally disgusting.”

In this $290.8 million project, it’s evident that the little things are at the basis of much of the appeal for students. But the larger issues are not forgotten.

The new school is fit with bathrooms on each floor -- and clean ones at that. This prospect leaves sophomore Nolan Roof “really excited,” as he believes that “everyone will enjoy the new bathrooms, and [students] won’t destroy them.” In this $290.8 million project, it’s evident that the little things are at the basis of much of the appeal for students.

See the ACMi video of grand tour at the new AHS:

But the larger issues are not forgotten. Markelz discusses her excitement surrounding the new computers for her computer-aided design and drafting class. Junior Charley Snell can’t wait for the air-conditioning -- and the consistent temperature control. Roof expresses his enthusiasm for the science classrooms. Naylor, lights up, when discussing the new natural light. Hinck is excited for her new anatomy classroom. Junior Klara Fritsch says she feels “thrilled, warm, fuzzy and delighted” when thinking about the new building. Students are excited for the new, the fresh and the unexplored section of the building.

Embracing a new building means leaving behind an old one. Naylor shares her sentiment that, “As broken as it is, there is a lot of history,” a history that reminds Naylor of “all the people [who have] walked the hallways before [her].” 

A new building may function objectively better than the old, but it doesn’t have the same charm. “It might not feel like our own as much,” Naylor added.

Hinck agreed, expressing how she will miss the “old murals” and “homey vibe” that the old building holds.

The new building, which houses performing arts and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics), marks ​​the end of a chapter at AHS, but opens up a new one. As Principal Dr. Janger says, a “culmination of over eight years of community vision and support ….The new chapter is carefully crafted, he said, to support “inquiry, collaboration, creativity, well-being, and community engagement.”

To make new laughs and new memories.  

Dec. 20, 2019: $24.7M in cuts bring budget for rebuilt AHS into line

This news feature by Alisha Gandhi, an Arlington High School junior who is YourArlington's intern was published Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. It was updated March 2, to correct the reference to the oldest part of AHS to Fusco House, not Collumb, and again March 4, to add video window.