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Friday's work involved just a few shovelsful of dirt, but come Wednesday, real work on South Albany High School's new addition begins.

Students, faculty, board members and construction officials gathered Friday afternoon at South for a groundbreaking ceremony, marking the spot where an auxiliary gym will stand almost exactly a year from now. 

The high school is also receiving improvements to its theater and expansions and updates to its career-technical education spaces, known to educators as CTE. Those include a new "maker's lab" and a covered area the construction trades class can use for large-scale projects.

Architects Karen Montovino and Amy Vohs were among the speakers at Friday's ceremony.

"We are just so excited to begin this next phase, the construction phase," Montovino said. 

Added Vohs: "We look forward to the next year of digging dirt." 

Proceeds from a $159 million bond measure are paying for the work. Gerding Builders is the construction manager/general manager, with a guaranteed maximum price contract not to exceed $13,175,409.

Skip Hamilton of DLR, project manager for the work, noted the Albany School Board approved the contract Dec. 10 and work began the next day, Dec. 11. The projected finish date is Dec. 11, 2019.

"We're exactly 12 months out," he said.

Hamilton said he's excited to see the vision start to become reality. "The 'wow' factor piece is the new gym, for sure, but I think the meat and potatoes is the CTE," he said.

Jorge Juarez-Hernandez, also a project manager, said the challenge for crews will be fitting a new building in as a seamless part of the existing campus and getting around all the existing underground power and gas lines to do so.

They're up to the challenge, however, he said. "I'm just excited to be part of the team putting it together." 

In addition to the ceremonial shovel-turn, Friday's ceremony included a band performance, remarks by Mayor Sharon Konopa, and a post-ceremony reception in the commons, where visitors could view conceptual designs for the new gym.

Interim Principal Nate Muñoz said the additions will give the campus a new look. "The sense of pride it will give our students is what I'm most excited about," he said.

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