Retirees Agree: New Northview High School is a Stunner

Donna Host walked into the new Northview High School swimming pool area and gaped. “Holy cow, look at this!” Host exclaimed. “This is amazing!”

The retired physical education and health teacher was bowled over by the still-empty, 540,000-gallon pool on a sneak preview of the $38 million expansion and renovation of the high school. She was one of 16 retired faculty, plus a current student and her mother, who got a tour of the facility from Superintendent Mike Paskewicz two weeks before the start of the school year.Retired physical education and health teacher Donna Host marvels at the new pool

Paskewicz led the group in hard hats through clouds of dust and past construction crews working hard to get the building ready in time for students’ arrival on Sept. 2. The pool is expected to be open for the girls’ swim team by mid-October, and a a ribbon-cutting and public open house for the school is set for Oct. 23.

Even through the debris of construction stuff the visitors saw plenty to knock their eyes out, from the soaring glass walls of the front façade, spacious front lobby and roomier cafeteria to a new fitness center, science and computer labs and art rooms. They also appreciated the enclosed entryway vestibule and other new security measures.

“Absolutely stunning – money well-spent,” said Linda Hockemeyer, who supported the $43.5 million raised by two bond issues for this and other district improvements. “It’s taxpayer dollars at their best. The community needs it.”

Paskewicz shares a light moment in the front lobby with retired teacher Lisa CookNot Like the Old Days

Her daughter Lyza, a senior and school board student representative, said she welcomed the completion of construction after three years of studying amid “eight million things going on.”

“There’s not a thing I don’t like,” Lyza said. “It’s going to make kids more excited to come to school. It’s going to give us a sense of pride.”

For former teachers, the airy structure was a marvel of design, technology and amenities. They admired the former pool, now a fitness center outfitted with 18 weight machines donated by East Hills Athletic Club, and were dazzled by the new pool with 13 swimming lanes. A terraced study room containing 60 computers and two art rooms flanking a digital lab also impressed them.

“It’s amazing,” said Roger Smith, former head of the math department who retired in 1995. “I was here 35 years and never saw anything like this. I like the openness of it, and the fact there is room for kids without being on top of each other. This is a beautiful building.”

Donna Host, the former P.E. teacher who retired in 2012, said the school is a tribute to the taxpayers who made it possible.

“It’s a great community here,” she said.

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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