Walbrook High to reopen in Sept. School was closed 3 years ago for asbestos removal, renovations.

August 22, 1991|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Evening Sun Staff

Walbrook Senior High School is scheduled to reopen next month, about three years after it was shut down for a major asbestos-removal project.

Since 1988, about 2,000 Walbrook students have shared space at Southwestern High School. Samuel Billups, Walbrook's principal, said his students have had to cope with cramped space at Southwestern, and some extracurricular programs, including drama and music, have suffered.

"We're very happy to have the students back here where we can provide a full range of programs for them," said Billups.

The asbestos-removal and reconstruction project started in March 1989. It involved removing an estimated 485,000 square feet of hazardous asbestos that had been used as a sprayed-on fireproofing substance when the school was built in 1971.

The asbestos had all been removed by March 1990, at a cost of $5 million. But contractors still had to replace heating, ventilation, water and other mechanical systems. The process also required a major face lift for the building itself.

"For those students who are coming back to us, it is, for all intents and purposes, a new building," said Billups.

The Walbrook makeover included the removal and replacement of ceilings, light fixtures, water and electrical fixtures, duct work, tiling and carpeting, he noted. The interior has been completely repainted.

"The building is now in better condition physically since perhaps it was built," said Billups.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony, was scheduled for today and it is to followed by a ceremony for the students on Sept. 3, when the school year begins and a rededication ceremony in October. Walbrook is located at 2000 Edgewood St., in West Baltimore.

"We're happy," Billups said of the move back to Walbrook's home turf. "You lose something when you're out of the community."

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