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Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Original touches in a new Roosevelt

Seattle Times staff reporter

As a Roosevelt High School student in the 1960s, Marjorie Gamble showered after gym class between the white marble stall dividers in the girls locker room. Today, as the school's administrative secretary, she pushes paper across the same white marble — recycled as the office countertops.

"I never realized what beautiful showers they were," she said.

Classes are scheduled to start next Wednesday, and at Roosevelt, the past mingles with the new-paint smell in the school's renovated hallways and common areas.

Rows of leftover wooden theater seats line the walls. Refinished woodwork frames doorways and trophy cases. The old metal ends of the auditorium-seat rows were reused to build balcony railings in the new performing-arts center. And the library, designed to be "the heart of learning," said Principal Chuck Chinn, fills a light-bathed expanse that was the old auditorium.

As administrators prepared for today's ribbon-cutting and Roosevelt's soccer team wind-sprinted across its new practice field, workers put the final touches on the school.

Originally built in 1922, Roosevelt is the third Seattle high school to be completely remodeled or rebuilt in the past decade, following West Seattle and Ballard; Cleveland is undergoing renovation, and work on Garfield High School is just beginning. Work is to be completed at Cleveland by the fall of 2007 and at Garfield by fall 2008.

Dedication today

The 9 a.m. ceremony at Roosevelt High School will include appearances by Mayor Greg Nickels; Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Raj Manhas; and local businessman Phil Smart, class of 1937. The school is at 1410 N.E. 66th St. in Seattle.

Roosevelt's $93.8 million renovation added a new gym and a 750-seat performing-arts center with padded seats and an orchestra pit. A track-ringed football field replaced the "mudhole" that had been the team's practice spot, said Assistant Principal Al Harada. The remodeled basement has new weight equipment and a yoga room. In the new gym, a dozen basketball hoops can be lowered from the ceiling for practice.

"My first impression overall was that they did an absolutely incredible job of getting the character of the old building and incorporating it into the new, expanded building," said Bob Berst, who graduated from Roosevelt in 1948 and has visited the school twice during renovations.

The design of the new wing mimicked the archways on the front of the original building, he noted.

"It just carries through that feeling, that atmosphere that was so much a part of the original school."

During the two-year remodel, Roosevelt's 1,800 or so students attended classes at the Lincoln building in Wallingford, where Garfield's students will start the school year next week.

Chinn put some of the school's annual technology money from the district toward upgrades in new classrooms, including ceiling-mounted projectors, DVD players and VCRs, and "smart boards" — interactive white boards that hook up with computers for classroom use. "It's the one time you have the opportunity for all new furnishings," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how the faculty and students use this building."

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company



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