‘It’s really exciting’: Pupils and staff ready to start at Central Grade School, site of former haunted house


CHICAGO (SCS) — From school to haunted house and now back to school.

It’s the unusual course of a building in the southwest suburb of Lemont, the former Central Grade School on McCarthy Road.

CBS 2’s Shardaa Gray reports that there are still a few finishing touches left before the grand opening on Thursday, with the renovation costing $20 million. This is the figure the district felt it should spend.

About 550 students will return to class in a repurposed building at Lemont Central School.

“Kids, they’re all going to have their own stuff. Keeping things as organized as possible for them,” said Kaylyn Brothers, a fourth-grade teacher at Central School.

Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District Superintendent Anthony McConnell said in 2011 that the school district was forced to close the school due to budget cuts.

“I think it was a combination of several things. Just not enough resources to sustain the school district at the time,” McConnell said.

Students were sent to other schools, but the school was not demolished. It served as a haunted house. Gone are the ghosts, goblins and fake blood, replaced by books, desks and whiteboards.

“For a while there was a great community initiative to have a haunted house here for a few years, where they did a haunted house here in October for Halloween,” McConnell said.

In April 2021, they were able to begin a $20 million renovation to modernize and update the school.

“We passed the rate cap referendum, which allowed us to increase our tax rate. That’s how we were able to reopen that building, but also reduce class sizes,” McConnell said. .

This meant tearing down the bridge that connected the old school. And add additional classrooms.

“I mean, that’s seven new classrooms for us,” McConnell said.

“It’s really exciting. The staff are so excited to be here. The students are so excited to come next week,” Principal Shirley Kleehammer said.

Teachers worked around the clock to prepare their students.

“They can expect a nice classroom, a nice school, nice furniture, but they can expect a great learning year in fourth grade,” Brothers said.

McConnell said if the community hadn’t passed the referendum, class sizes would be over 30 children in a class. Now, with the renovation and 50 additional staff members, there will now be 23 or 24 students in each room.

School starts next Wednesday, August 17.


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