By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — It’s the shining star of the city’s educational system.
It took nearly a decade, but Haverhill High School has finally shed the image of a second-rate facility — a place where students and teachers once suffered from poor ventilation, struggled with outdated science labs and endured many potholes in the school parking lots.
After $34 million worth of renovations, the school — despite a punch list of remaining work — is almost like new.
And students and staff wants to show it off to the rest of the community.
Residents are invited to come to the high school tomorrow to celebrate the renovation with tours of the building, student music performances, pony rides and a cookout.
“The renaissance of Haverhill High School has been achieved through the financial support of the residents, the long-standing commitment and dedication of a volunteer committee and the expertise of the high school faculty ...,’’ reads a flier promoting the event. “For years to come, young adults will be in a setting appropriate for learning.’’
Called “Renaissance Day at the Haverhill High School Campus,” the event is from noon to 3 p.m.
The $34 million renovation, which began in 2004, was designed to address concerns raised in 1998 when the New England Association of Schools and Colleges threatened to revoke the high school’s accreditation. The state contributed about $25 million for the work.
In 2002, when voters rejected a tax increase to pay for a $55 million renovation, school and city officials decided to repair and improve the building in stages for less money by paying the city’s share of the cost in Haverhill’s annual operating budget.
Key components of the renovation included replacing all the building’s windows and doors, installing new systems to clean the air and heat and cool the school, improving the building that houses the swimming pool, adding new science labs, improving the building’s electrical and security systems, and providing accessibility upgrades for people with disabilities.
The campus driveway, grounds and athletic fields were redesigned and landscaped, and the building’s technology was updated.
“Now that the journey is complete, it is only fitting that everyone who contributed to the success of the project, and all who care about the future of the high school, enjoy the successful outcome of everyone’s efforts,” Superintendent James Scully said.
The festivities will include a rededication of the school and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
IF YOU GO :What: Community celebration of Haverhill High School renovation When: Tomorrow, noon to 3 p.m. :Why: To show off the $34 million facelift of the campus :Activities: Tours, cookout, pony rides, building dedication