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Little Rock Central High School to receive $60 million facelift

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Little Rock, Arkansas – A $60 million renovation of Little Rock Central High School will shortly take place.

The improvements, which were spearheaded by the Little Rock architecture firm Polk Stanley Wilcox, include a new science center and fieldhouse.

Working on the project is Sarah Bennings, who has a unique connection to Little Rock Central.

“As an alumni of the school,” Bennings said. “This is really special for me.”

Bennings graduated from Little Rock Central in 1999. Even then, she knew the historic high school needed upgrades.

“The school is still using their original laboratory spaces that were built in 1927,” Bennings said.

One of the key focal points of the newly created area, which runs the length of 16th Street between South Park and Jones Street, will be the scientific center.

“We have a new three-story science building here,” Bennings said. “The two-story fieldhouse is located in the south endzone by Quigley stadium.”

The science center takes the place of temporary structures that were set up more than 20 years ago. A new weight room, cheer and wrestling rooms, and an indoor practice field are all included in the fieldhouse.

The project’s funding was authorized by voters as part of a millage increase that will be on the ballot in 2021.

“It’s going to give them a lot more flexibility and an opportunity to grow as a team,” Bennings said.

The most challenging aspect of the project, according to Bennings, is incorporating the history of Little Rock Central into the restorations.

“[It’s] much more difficult to design in a historical context than just a blank field,” Bennings said.

With brick that closely resembles that of Little Rock Central’s original structure, the new buildings will resemble it.

“A modern interpretation of that,” Bennings said. “[It won’t] mimic the architecture.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

“In my opinion, Little Rock Central High School is one of the best high schools in the state, one of the most historic high schools,” Bennings said.

“Tremendous academic and athletic accomplishments… they need and deserve facilities that represent and support that.”

The Dr. Marian G. Lacey K8 Academy, the McClellan replacement campus, is also on the list of improvements and is expected to cost $87 million.

A price hasn’t yet been disclosed, but the new Little Rock West High School is also on the list.

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