Chief Sealth renovations: Students’ behind-the-scenes tour

You’ve probably seen the photos from the outside – but this time, we’re going inside. As Chief Sealth International High School renovations move into the final months, school administrators thought it was time to get the students excited about the upgrades too. So Thursday morning a busload of 2nd-period class reps – who act as liaisons between classmates and staff – got a hardhat tour; WSB got to join them. First stop on the tour, the former commons area, where project manager Robert Evans explained what it was morphing into:

After Sealth students and staff move back to the permanent campus this fall, they’ll be lunching in the new Galleria (top photo). Many more sights ahead, including another look at the slope-clearing goats:

One major work zone, the theater/auditorium, getting upgrades from ADA stage access to a safer new catwalk, which Evans explained as we stood on the stage:

The auditorium will have fewer seats – 900 instead of the old 1,100 – but they’ll be cushioned. New classrooms are in place too, including added science space to fulfill requirements of Sealth’s International Baccalaureate program:

And Evans pointed to some features that will bring classrooms both new and existing into the 21st century – this metal “bulkhead” contains connections to help a room either link up with other parts of the school or function as its own “network”:

That’ll all be out of sight, of course, when the work is done – though not necessarily out of mind, since it will facilitate features including classroom microphones – with or without wires – to enable students to hear each other more easily, Evans explained. And in some parts of the renovated Sealth, it’ll be easier to see people, too, thanks to skylights for areas without much (if any) natural light before:

After winding our way through corridors with temporary lighting dangling overhead, we wound up outside, where of course we had to take a look at the goats, some of whom, we were told, either were or were going to be offsite to film a Taco Time commercial later in the day:

They were, as you might expect, a hit (one student was heard excitedly calling to the principal, “Mr. Boyd, did you see those goats?”):

And the goats did their job, oblivious to what was going on around them, like this hydraulic lifting of floor-leveling material:

While the new Denny is taking shape right next door, students were reassured that they wouldn’t be mingling, which had been a big topic of discussion during the many months of controversy before the work began.

Denny even has its own gym, it was explained, after the students had taken a look at the work in progress in theirs, which is getting new bleachers, floor, ceiling and scoreboards, according to Evans, as well as a concession area:

Just a few of the other touches we heard about during the tour: Wood paneling in the school corridors and color-coded zones “to help you understand where you are in the building” … individual climate-control systems in classrooms for efficiency and savings … a new area for teaching sports medicine, which very few schools offer … The whole tour was so comprehensive, the students had few questions at the end. “Will it be done on time?” one asked. “On time, on budget,” smiled Evans. And what was that budget? asked another. When it’s all done, said Evans, the cost will be between $90 and $95 million, counting the future demolition of the old Denny School and conversion into sports fields and six tennis courts.

All in all, the school is still very much a construction zone, so why take a tour? we asked principal Boyd. He explained it seemed like time to get the students “fired up” about what’s ahead starting next fall. The students who took Thursday’s tour will be putting together a PowerPoint presentation that each will give to the 2nd-period class she/he represents. As for the administrators – this was Boyd’s third visit to the construction zone. He pronounced the work “impressive” and said it seemed to be fulfilling the promise made when $10 million more was added to the Sealth renovation project so that it would include upgrades beyond the originally mandated practicalities – upgrades chosen in a process that involved “voting” to choose from among 30 upgrade options – voting done at community meetings and on the Sealth campus. (Here’s our report on one of those meetings in April 2008.)

You can read up on project background at, as well as in the WSB Denny/Sealth coverage archive.

2 Replies to "Chief Sealth renovations: Students' behind-the-scenes tour"

  • CSIHS Drama Parent April 9, 2010 (7:18 am)

    This is an example of the bad economy helping us out…the performing arts program certainly got an extra boost with the new theatre seats and the catwalk – and the sports program(s) with the gym improvements!

    BTW, you’re all invited to CSIHS’s Spring Production of “You Can’t Take it With You”, May 14 & 15, at their current location in the Boren Building.

  • John Commeree April 9, 2010 (9:14 am)

    This is very exciting. I look forward to visiting my alma mater(s) when the work is done.

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