The community got its first look inside the newly renovated Springfield Center for Innovation: The Dome Thursday evening as facility tours followed an official ribbon-cutting and re-dedication.
The ceremony was moved indoors to the Walters Gymnasium due to rain, but several hundred people packed the floor and the bleachers to celebrate the building’s reopening.
“Springfield is long overdue for something like this,” said Dano Grimes. He grew up in the neighborhood, but attended Catholic Central High School. His mother, Betty Grimes, who runs the Gammon House museum, said everyone in the community has memories inside the building.
“This is dear to us as a community, whether we went to school here or not,” she said. “We didn’t want to see it torn down.”
The 104-year-old building previously served as Springfield High School, then South High School.
It has been transformed into a college and career readiness hub, thanks to $23 million in total investment from a state Straight A grant, state capital funds, private donations and matching local money.
Three organizations will move into the building: Greater Springfield CareerConnectED Center, Global Impact STEM Academy and Clark State’s Food Science and Technology Program.
“It doesn’t, of course, look the same, but the dome looks great,” said South alum Teresa Youngerman while standing in the former library, which now houses the YouMedia career exploration space.
As alumni and former teachers snapped photos under the iconic dome, parents of current students said they are thrilled with the new educational opportunities created by the project.
“It’s so modern,” said Bridget Rexroth, whose two sons will be attending GISA when classes begin Aug. 19. “It’s the first time since my kids have been in school that he’s wanted to go to school, not wanted to miss a day,” she said of the experience thus far with GISA.
“We’ve been looking forward to GISA having their own space,” said Linda Kohl, whose daughter will be a junior. “It’s gorgeous. You couldn’t ask for better facilities, technology and teachers.”
The open house will continue Friday from 3-7 p.m. and Sunday from 2-6 p.m. Some of the mentors who will be available at the CareerConnectED Center to help students explore science-based careers will be on hand to conduct demonstrations.