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Ground was broken Tuesday for the new $29.5 million Guam High School in a Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas ceremony at the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam compound.

About 60 people attended, including Navy and Air Force officials, Guam High students and faculty, Department of Defense Education Activity officials and representatives of contractor Dick Pacific Construction Co.

Construction is to be completed by June 2007 and the school is to open for the 2007-08 school year. With 75,000 square feet of classroom space, it will accommodate 477 students, according to a U.S. Naval Forces Marianas news release.

Dr. Joe Tafoya, Department of Defense Education Activity director, called the new school “a dream five years in the making.” Its most welcome feature will be space, said Dr. Rita Williams, Guam High principal. “We’ll have not only enough space but … more computer labs and our library will be larger. Our information center is in a very small space in the basement now. And we’ll have a regulation gym.”

Guam High now conducts most practices and plays most of its home games away from the school. “We have to not only bus kids to games but … away to practice. So we’re looking forward to having our own facility,” Williams said.

No plans have been made yet to accommodate children of up to 7,000 Marines who may be relocated to Guam from Okinawa under a pending Japanese-U.S. plan to realign U.S. military forces in Japan, he added.

Dick Pacific Construction recently was awarded a $38.4 million contract to build a new elementary and middle school near Lockwood Housing on Naval Base Guam. It will replace McCool School, originally a barracks building. The new building, to accommodate 850 students, is to be completed by May 2008.

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