JOLIET – Carrie DelRose, 38, might not be a Joliet Township High School alumna, but she has many ties to one of the area’s oldest school districts.
Her grandfather, father and husband all attended school in the district and her 14-year-old daughter recently started as a freshman at Joliet Central.
Carrie DelRose also is a project assistant and office engineer with Gilbane, the construction manager for Joliet Central’s new Student Center project.
“It’s exciting for me. My dad was really proud of Central. My dad was a football player all four years, so to be part of something that he was so involved with is really neat,” she said.
Her grandfather was involved with the school board about the time the district went from one to three schools with the addition of West and East campuses. The district later closed Joliet East.
“He was a big part of Central when there was a lot of transitioning going on, with the closing [of Joliet East],” she sad. “I wonder sometimes if some of the footprints that were laid so long ago have brought us to where we are today.”
By “today,” she’s referring to the new Student Center construction at Joliet Central that broke ground earlier this year. The $28 million project is being funded through bonds and is slated to wrap up by spring 2016.
Carrie’s daughter, Sammy DelRose, is young enough that she’ll still be a Joliet Central student by the time the new Student Center opens. That means she’ll get full use of something her mother took part in, including an improved cafeteria area, bookstore, galleria with natural lighting, and a student lounge.
“I’m really excited,” Sammy DelRose said. “I can’t wait to see the cafeteria. It’ll definitely be bigger and better.”
Right now, lunch periods begin as early as 10:20 a.m. and as late as 2:15 p.m. because the school’s fourth-floor cafeteria can only seat 350 students. It’s likely the school will be able to eliminate one of the periods and seat 600 in the new cafeteria.
Preserving the historical integrity of the 112-year-old building was key in planning, district spokeswoman Kristine Schlismann said.
Both the architectural team, Wight & Company, and the Joliet Central High School Archive Committee made it a point to have the project mirror the school’s historic architecture. The galleria connection, which will be attached to the east side of the school, will have the same limestone facade as the rest of the building.
Right now, Carrie DelRose said, both Wight & Company and Gilbane are working on a design for the building’s main entrance doors.
“If you look, the doors over here are beautiful. Most of the original doors are four-inch wood,” DelRose said. “You can’t find those these days. It’s a big challenge because you have to find something that’s durable, but at the same time, you want to maintain the integrity of the doors.”