EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 26, 2013

'New' Methuen High a big hit at open house

METHUEN — Bunny Agnew said she was awed by what she saw in her return to a more modern Methuen High School.

“I worked here for 28 years in the cafeteria, so I gave it the once-over,” said Agnew, one of more than 300 people attending a public open house at the newly renovated and expanded building last night.

“I retired six years ago and this is the first time I’ve been back,’’ she said. “I’m just amazed with the difference. I liked it when I was here. But this food court is really nice. They have nice choices (on the menu) and I think the kids are going to enjoy it. It’s state of the art and it’s wonderful.’’

Agnew’s daughter Cynde — a 1989 Methuen High graduate — said she liked what she saw, too, but said she still preferred the open classroom environment that’s been replaced.

“It’s weird to see walls,” Cynde said. “I’m kind of nostalgic. I was OK with the open (classroom) concept. It looks a lot different than when I was here. It’s beautiful, but it’s just different. I just prefer the open concept. I don’t know anything different.’’

The open house was held to give public a close look at the $98-million renovation project. Methuen High School was built in the 1970s and its central internal organizing principle was an educational idea called “open classroom,’’ which favored a wide open floor plan with few or no barriers.

Remaining parts of the renovation are expected to wrap up by the summer of 2014.

The Agnews said they were pleased to see the way the city spent taxpayers’ money to improve the learning environment at the school.

Parents of children in kindergarten through grade eight received invitations to roam the classrooms and halls of the school for 90 minutes last night. The general public was also welcome. Parents of high school students got to visit last week.

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