The community gathers for the grand opening of the new Royal Oak High School athletic plaza Sept. 14.

The community gathers for the grand opening of the new Royal Oak High School athletic plaza Sept. 14.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Community christens Royal Oak High School athletic plaza

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 17, 2018

 The Royal Oak High School marching band performs during the grand opening of the new athletic plaza.

The Royal Oak High School marching band performs during the grand opening of the new athletic plaza.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

 Jackson Smith, 8, of Royal Oak, plays a fishing game during the grand opening of the new athletic plaza at Royal Oak High School  Sept. 14.

Jackson Smith, 8, of Royal Oak, plays a fishing game during the grand opening of the new athletic plaza at Royal Oak High School Sept. 14.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

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ROYAL OAK — On Sept. 14, the school community came together to celebrate the grand opening of the new athletic plaza at Royal Oak High School.

Work began in April on the new $5.5 million athletic plaza, which includes a concession stand, a ticket booth, locker rooms for the home team and visitors, restrooms and a picnic area.

The high school will also receive eight new tennis courts, a redeveloped soccer field and a new track that will be expanded from six to eight lanes. The changes will allow the school to have the opportunity to host tennis and track tournaments.

“I think it’s a great thing for the community,” Royal Oak Schools Operations Manager Patrick Murphy said. “This plaza has been a long time coming for the high school. It’s great to see everybody here and being able to enjoy it as we open it up.”

Murphy said the concessions area would be open during games, and that the field and concessions area are also available for rent.

Each of the schools in the district had a booth set up on the plaza with an array of activities and games. Afterward, the Royal Oak Ravens played a home game on the turf field.

“It’s really exciting,” said Mark Paulus, of Northville-based Lecole Planners, who worked on the athletic plaza, as well as on the district’s sinking fund projects. “It puts the school ahead and gives the student-athletes a better experience.”

Paulus added that the scope of the project includes adding a new entrance to the athletic area from Lexington Boulevard in the area used to house the driver’s education facility.

Melissa Hutchinson, principal of the Churchill Community Education Center, said she was impressed with the new facility. Students from the alternative high school made their own yard games for the event.

“It’s absolutely amazing. I had no idea it was going to be this awesome,” Hutchinson said. “I have one student who is playing football this year from my school. It’s the first year that we’ve had cross-sports with the high school and my high school. (Senior Lucas Rait) is playing today, so I’m really excited.”

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 more than a year ago.

Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, superintendent of Royal Oak Schools, said the high 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.

The athletic plaza project also includes improved drainage and stormwater management in the fields, and path connections between different athletic fields.

Murphy said the district planned to replace the turf football field, which is 12 years old, next year or the year after.

All of the work is covered through a five-year, $59.9 million bond passed by Royal Oak voters in the Nov. 7, 2017, election. The proposal passed with a 72.29 percent to 27.74 percent margin.

Other bond work to be done at the high school will begin in 2019 and will 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 the 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 updates, such as new doors and locks, updated heating and cooling systems, new roofing and new flooring.

Fitzpatrick said the district opted to push up the installation of new playground equipment, also covered under the bond, at Oak Ridge, Northwood and Addams elementary schools this summer so the students could enjoy it sooner.

This year, the district sold the first $26.9 million in bonds; the second series of approximately $33 million in bonds will be sold in May 2020 to facilitate improvements through 2022.

The bond does not increase the district’s current millage rate of 3.25 mills.

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

 

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