Northern Tioga School District took a huge leap forward after renovations totaling $15.3 million near completion.

Williamson and Cowanesque Valley high schools have seen vast improvements due to the renovations. Both schools now have a secure entrance that requires visitors to enter through an enclosed vestibule. In addition to the upgraded entryways, both schools benefit from added classrooms and space.

“There were some spacing issues that needed to be addressed which the four middle school classrooms will provide for that. All of the shops were in need of upgrade,” Williamson principal Kris Kaufman said.

The renovations to the shops will now give students more opportunities to grow and improve their work and career skills. For example, one improvement has been the inclusion of overhead bay doors which will allow students to bring an automobile into the shop.

“In years past, we never had the availability to bring vehicles into the space and if they were going to work on them they had to go outside, which was not ideal,” Kaufman said.

A new fabrication room with improved ventilation will afford students more opportunities to paint and finish their work.

Williamson will also benefit from a new robotics lab. The added space will enable the school to offer more courses in robotics, a field which continues to grow. Students taking robotics are now going beyond traditional robotics and are learning how to design and program drones.

With a major focus on trade skills, Williamson High School will enable the school to meet workforce needs in the years to come. Kaufman said, “You are constantly seeing and reading in news and reports the importance of the trades. And in this country right now, we are certainly at a deficit and certainly heading into a deficit with the Boomer generation retiring out from the trade. So it’s going to allow us to address the need. When you look at it over the course of a career lifespan of 25 years, we are going to be able to provide for that.”

On the other side of the valley, Cowanesque Valley High School benefits from new classrooms and added space. Prior to the renovations there was lack of space for students to work with and incorporate technology.

“I think one thing we have seen an increase in is online options for kids. There are a lot of online opportunities that we will be able to utilize with this space to meet students needs,” Cowanesque Valley principal Matt Sottolano said.

In addition to the online aspect of the changes, Sottolano said, “We will have a media center for students to be able to have stuff out like our ZSpace lab and 3D printer. It gives them the opportunity to have more of a college atmosphere where they can go to a space and work on their own.”

The renovations to Cowanesque Valley meet the school’s need for additional space, but the most obvious upgrade will be the renovated front of the school. Visitors will no longer climb a flight of stairs when they enter. Instead, guests entering during the day will enter through a secure vestibule. The renovated front will also be utilized during sports and extra curricular activities where guests will enter through a contemporary glass entryway.

It’s been a process as both schools have undergone major changes, but the opportunities these changes offer has been worth the wait.