Byron Center HS welcomes students despite construction

Kent County

BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Students of Byron Center High School are starting classes Tuesday despite continuing construction at their building.

A major phase of the school’s two-year, $34 million renovation and expansion project is nearing completion.

“Byron Center is growing. Which is a great problem to have. It’s a great thing to be able to work through,” said Scott Joseph, who has served as Byron Center High School’s principal for the last 11 years.

With a shortened summer, construction crews had to hustle, working around the clock to reach ensure the building was ready enough.

“Just in that short period of time, making sure that we’re ready for our kids so that has been a challenge,” said Joseph.

The new space features introverted learning spaces and group project rooms.

Construction crews are still busy on portions of the school not accessible to the students. Joseph says now that school is underway, the workers will shift their schedules to nights and weekends to finish the project.

Despite the wet paint and power tools hard at work days before the start of school, Joseph assured News 8 the building is safe and functional.

Students of Byron Center High School have played a crucial role in the project.

“I just think that this was something even more that no one really expected. I haven’t heard of any other school allowing their students to help renovate the high school,” said Andrew Agius, a senior who serves on the principal’s advisory council.

Three students helped pick out and design furniture, and the school’s new lockable coatroom was entirely designed by students.

“That was one of the ideas the students came up with and I don’t think adults would have,” said Joseph.

Students also helped teachers forced out of their classrooms by the construction.

“We had to pack up all of our books and all of our materials at the end of the school year last year and it was fairly stressful,” said Erinn Caley, who teaches creative writing and an AP language course at the high school.

Two weeks before class officially began, students were at the building, helping teachers move back in.

“There was no air conditioning and they were unpacking all of our boxes. I don’t know how teachers would be ready if it weren’t for the help of students,” said Caley.

“I’m super proud to be a Bulldog. Our students have been amazing,” said Joseph.

Those students are now excited to get inside their new learning space and put it to use.

“My message to them is we’re gonna work together, we’re gonna be patient, we’re gonna figure it out together and within a week we’ll have this place nailed down,” their principal said.

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