- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2004

When 400 D.C. ninth- and 10th-graders step through the doors of a 76-year-old school Sept. 1, they will enter a completely refurbished building disguised by its classic architectural exterior.

The building, known today as McKinley Technology High School, was closed in 1997 because of declining enrollment. In 1999, city officials determined that the site should be home to the city’s most modern high school.

The school’s 42 classrooms have been wired for Internet and broadcast use, and five chemistry labs are equipped with modern fixtures and instruments. The cafeteria, auditorium and gymnasium also have been refurbished.

“I think I’ve found the school I’ve dreamed up,” said Christopher Evans, a ninth-grader who wrote an essay as part of his application to attend the District’s newest secondary school. The school is accepting students through a citywide application process rather than an attendance zone.

McKinley, built on a hill south of the U.S. Capitol, is one of a dozen buildings included in a $730 million renovation program administered by the Army Corps of Engineers. It is the fifth building and the first high school to be completed under the program since 1999.

“It represents reclaiming and revitalizing public space,” Mayor Anthony A. Williams said.

Although capacity was nearly 1,500 students before it was closed, the newly designed McKinley eventually will serve 800 students by 2006, when it will have students in ninth through 12th grades. It also will be home to technology classes offered by the University of the District of Columbia under a two-year associate degree program.

“We have a technology high school that is second to none in the country,” said William Lockridge, an elected member of the D.C. Board of Education.

The $70 million McKinley project included the replacement of seven miles of plumbing pipes and 450 miles of new wiring. The school’s 650 tons of air-conditioning capacity is enough to cool 250 average-sized homes.

Brick work, marble and tile were cleaned and repaired. The decorative plaster work adorning the auditorium of the 201,000-square-foot American Revival-style building also was restored.

“The classrooms and all the updated equipment they’ve put in, and the computers, it’s terrific,” said Rufus Milor, 73, a 1949 graduate of McKinley Tech who now lives in Hyattsville.

Mr. Milor said the halls and auditorium still seemed familiar after 55 years.

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