Dowagiac Union High School open house showcases updates for community

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, March 27, 2019

DOWAGIAC — On Monday evening, the doors of Dowagiac Union High School were left open for the community.

From 6 to 7:30 p.m., parents, students and all other members of the community were welcome to tour the facilities and see some of the updates constructed through the last few years. According to district superintendent Paul Hartsig, it was time to show off the renovations the students and staff have enjoyed through most of the 2018-2019 school year.

“We’ve been living in the building throughout the year,” Hartsig said. “We got to this point, and we wanted to invite the community to see a snapshot of where we are right now.”

The updates and renovations were part of what Hartsig called a “complete overhaul” to the entirety of the school.

“Our buildings in the district hadn’t been touched since the ‘60s, so it was time to bring them up to the 21st Century,” Hartsig said.

The completion of the building projects at the high school is the result of $37 million in funding passed by voters in November 2015. By December 2016, the board of education saw the final designs for the renovation projects at the high school, though funding was also allotted for updates to the football field and four elementary schools.

Some of the building projects at the high school included moving the main offices to the front of the building, the addition of a learning commons with updated presentation technology, a completely redone kitchen and cafeteria, new gas and electrical work, updated science labs and a variety of other modern amenities.

Although there are a few finishing touches left to complete, the bulk of the work is finished.

“Much of the stuff is done,” Hartsig said. “There are a few items with ongoing work, but the vast majority is done and completed and used by almost the whole school.”

Visitors to the Monday evening open house were greeted by teachers, administrators and National Honor Society students who guided tours and showed some of the new amenities and facilities. The cafeteria was the central hub of the event with food served for visitors. From there, labs, the media center, classrooms and more were open for public viewing.

Amy Hackett was one science teacher showing off a new science lab.

“We are really excited about the updates,” she said. “We’re glad people can come see what we now have to work with.”

The two years of renovations were not always ideal for a learning environment, Hartsig said, but he is grateful for the accommodation of the staff and students, and for the hard work of John Juroff, the director of facilities and “the man on top of it all,” as Hartsig described him, who oversaw the projects and navigated the school through the work.

Hartsig believes the end products were worth the wait, hard work and occasional struggles.

“It’s been a process,” he said. “It was a little chaotic at times, but I believe they’re very pleased. We got very positive feedback.”


Main offices were relocated to the front of the building.

A new learning commons was added with updated presentation technology.

The cafeteria and kitchen were completely remodeled.

A new gymnasium was erected.

Science labs were updated with modernized equipment.