Controversial high school is complete

ROSEMONT, Pa. – September 1, 2009 Harriton High School is first to be finished, and they're ready to open its doors to students after Labor Day.

Get the grand tour of the new Harriton High School and you'll see some pretty grand features, like the 850 seat auditorium with acoustics fit for the Great White Way.

"You could stage a Broadway show in here and the sound would be very similar," said district spokesman Doug Young.

Behind the scenes are seven miles of cable run back-stage to make student productions look professional.

"This is not your typical school, there you can relate multiple layers of scenery, staging."

For the music program there's a climate controlled room for string instruments.

"Certainly make instruments last longer."

More space to grow the program...and a stereo system that teachers believe will boost students' performance level.

"I can record the ensemble and play it back for immediate feedback," explained Jason Bizich, the Choral Studies Director.

There are also science labs, where each station has its own gas and water, two gymnasiums, and a greenhouse for horticulture and botany, and for computers, the building is completely wireless, not to mention the green features.

All the lights in the building are set on high efficiency dimmers based on the amount of light that comes in the room the fixtures adjust which will really save on energy.

But the $100 million dollar project didn't come without its share of controversy. Critics blasted its cost and a redistricting plan to equalize the enrollments between the new Lower Merion and Harriton high schools. The district spokesman says their focus is on creating a seamless transition for students.

"We didn't make kids start school in the middle of the school year, and if they start one school they will finish at that school."

Class is back in session next week but compared to the old building teachers like what they see.

"There's no comparison."

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