Principal Gordon Opstad states that the unheard of 81% bond issue passage was an indication that the entire city of Grand Forks supported the major improvements. Another factor in the widely supported bond issue was that in 1984 most of the eligible voters either graduated from Central and/or had children, friends or relatives associated with the "Old Grand Lady", which Central was commonly referred to. There had been consideration to building a brand new high school complex on the west edge of the city, but this did not gain much support because of the estimated 28 million dollar cost and the fact that most people could not imagine closing down the old Central building.
It took nearly a year after the bond election to develop and "fine tune" the blueprints and to let the bids. In the spring of 1985 construction commenced on the 5.5 million dollar addition which would house our music department, physical education program, gymnasium, running track, pool, wrestling, volleyball and other various athletic areas. This beautiful new addition was connected by an enclosed bridge to the old part of Central which was to be completely remodeled.
The addition was completed by the opening of school in August 1987. The remodeling project was done mostly during the 1987-88 school year. That was quite a year as we had to relocate all the classes on the third floor until they finished doing that area. Second floor, the basement, and the main level each took their turn being relocated, remodeled, and returned. All during this time, students and staff had to contend with construction noise, dust, tar odors, gas fumes, asbestos removal, hot rooms and cold rooms. Everyone remained very tolerant of the uncomfortable conditions because everybody wanted to have Central revitalized so much.
Lee Murdock has been teaching science classes at Central since 1967. He shares two remodeling memories. The first shows the need for remodeling. After one experiment, the lab sinks would not drain. So he instructed all students to fill their sinks. Then if they all pulled the plugs at the same time, the sinks would surely drain. And so it happened. Unfortunately the sudden pressure burst the old pipes. Fortunately, Librarian Milt Kinzler and the students in the library directly below had just moved and were spared the shower from above.
During the third floor renovation his chemistry classes were relocated to the "Y" Annex. Mr. Murdock then set up the first North Dakota chemistry lab with aqua carpet and a fire place! Supplies were stored in boxes in 5 remote locations - other buildings within a 1 block radius. His loyal student assistants would go on regular adventurous scavenger hunts searching for the next days supplies.
Larry Barker was teaching US History and Sociology during this time. He recalls comments about the old Central being dingy, dirty, and all around bad. After the remodeling, however, feelings changed. People missed the building with its old doors and stone walled bathrooms. They felt privileged to say they had been in the old Central. There are very few pictures left. Many of them, along with other things, were lost in the flood of '97.
Mr. Barker shares this story. On winter mornings all the teachers would rush to secure the best parking spaces so they would not have to walk too far. During lunch on really cold days, they would start their cars at noon. Because the windows were so bad, the exhaust fumes would seep in and gas everyone near the parking lot.