Officials hold groundbreaking ceremony for Royal Oak High School bond work

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published May 15, 2018

 Royal Oak Schools administration and Board of Education members mark the beginning of the new athletic plaza project with a groundbreaking ceremony at Royal Oak High School May 10.

Royal Oak Schools administration and Board of Education members mark the beginning of the new athletic plaza project with a groundbreaking ceremony at Royal Oak High School May 10.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

ROYAL OAK — On May 10, school officials scooped a ceremonial shovel of dirt at the site of the future athletic plaza at Royal Oak High School.

Bill McCarthy, president of Farmington Hills-based construction firm McCarthy and Smith, said crews began work in late April and that the project is slated to wrap up before the beginning of the fall sports season.

The scope of the project includes an athletic plaza with a concession stand and ticket booth, locker rooms, restrooms, and a picnic area. The high school will also receive eight new tennis courts, a redeveloped soccer field and a new track, expanded from six to eight lanes.

“I’m very pleased to be superintendent of a district that has such support from the community,” Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick said. “It’s just very exciting.”

Fitzpatrick added that the school would demolish its existing tennis courts, which are in poor condition, in front of the school and replace them with green space or possibly a lacrosse field.

Voters approved the five-year, $59.9 million bond project that will ultimately touch all schools in the district 72.26 percent to 27.74 percent in the Nov. 7, 2017, election.

Royal Oak High School Principal Mike Giromini said the Board of Education engaged in a two-year facilities process, and the design for the new athletic plaza began over a year ago.

“We had lots and lots of meetings, talking about what’s going to meet our needs, what’s going to meet the kids’ needs and what’s going to be fabulous for our school,” Giromini said. “We’re really excited to have facilities that are commensurate with their abilities, their talents and all the work they do.”

He said the project is a “significant enhancement” because the different athletic areas were previously separate. With the expansion of the track, he added that the high school could now host tournaments, something it was previously unable to do.

Giromini said the construction has minimally affected the school’s athletic programs.

“We moved some games away, but we worked really closely with McCarthy and Smith to make sure we got a schedule that could accommodate a lot of home games,” he said. “Obviously, there’s been some fences to walk around and areas to stay out of, but it’s been pretty good.”

McCarthy said the weather has been “fun,” but that crews were making “pretty good” progress.

“We have a big stormwater retention system we’re installing right now, and it’s a lot of earthwork, regrading the entire site to develop the new tennis courts, redevelop the soccer field to the south and then this whole new plaza area to the south to create the grand entrance into the athletic complex,” he said.

Other bond work to be done at the high school will begin in 2019 and focus on the inside of the school. The school will receive a brand-new cafeteria and food service area that will allow for two lunch periods instead of three, and it will renovate its art, science and music classrooms.

All schools in the district will receive technology upgrades — such as updated audio and visual equipment, updated security and phone systems, and updated wireless network and access control systems — and site upgrades, such as new doors and locks, updated HVAC systems, new roofing and new flooring.

For more information about the bond projects, visit www.royaloakschools.org/district/bond-information.