Alumni welcome changes to high school

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — With renovations planned to start as soon as next spring, Central High School has a lot of changes ahead of it, but Saturday, it got a blast from the past. Alumni from the class of 1967 toured the school as part of their 50th reunion.

Change isn’t new for members of the class. In fact, they were the last class to graduate from Champaign High School. The next year, students were broken into two schools — Central and Centennial. They say that was a change for the better, and they think this expansion will be, too. 

“My class, which was the 100th class, it was the last to graduate from Champaign High, had 679 class members.”

“The hallways and the gym were just absolutely packed all the time.”

To help with that, Centennial High School opened the next year.

“I understand why they split the two schools when we were finished because they were bursting at the seams.”

Fifty years later, Central is having the same problem.

“I hear that now they’re having issues again, so they’re going to try to expand Central.”

The district has plans to renovate the northwest part of the school. They also plan to add air conditioning to all the classrooms, modernize other parts of the building and expand the gym and athletic space.

“I think that’s a good thing. I‘m not opposed to change. I think it’s good. As long as you keep the people as the core of your purpose, then you’re fine.”

Tucker agrees but says she’s sad to hear the expansions come at a cost, like the demolition of historic homes north of the school.

“That just makes me sad. They shouldn’t be doing that.”

But still as much as things change, some things will always stay the same.

“The heart of the school is the same. Not just the physical heart of it, but the real heart of it.”

Construction could start as soon as next spring, and school board officials say it could be more than $80 million dollars for the entire renovation. The project should be finished by 2022.

Central isn’t the only school in the Champaign district being renovated. There are six in total: two high schools, one middle school, three elementary schools and two fields.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.