Groundbreaking for new Newport high school

A long row of dignitaries break ground for the new, $106 million replacement for Newport’s Rogers High School June 17, 2022. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A long row of shovels grasped by officials, a National Guard brass band and a “Viking” mascot all played their parts in a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for a new building to replace the more than half-century old Rogers High School in Newport.

The $106 million school, funding by a bond approved by 78% of Newport voters is a big deal, officials say.

“It’s huge,” said Colleen Burns Jermain, Superintendent of Newport Schools as students, staff and guests tasted ice cream and frozen Del’s lemonade after the hour-long ceremony.

“It’s one of the biggest deals for the city of Newport to get a new high school. It’s been almost 56… 60 years,” she said.

Demolition of the existing auditorium wing is expected to begin in a couple of weeks, followed by construction of the new school alongside the existing building, giving students the opportunity to see their future school take shape over the next couple of years, she said. Construction is slated to be completed by 2024.

During the speaking program, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner pointed out the existing school ranked poorly in an engineering survey of all of the schools in the state.

“It is true that of the 306 buildings, Rogers High School was the one that was rated the lowest,” he said. Magaziner applauded the bond issue that provides the funding for the replacement school, along with General Assembly approval in Thursday night’s House vote on the budget that would set up a referendum in the November statewide election to provide another $250 million in school bond funding.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said the new high school will be state-of-the-art.

“We’re in a place now where everything is technologically advanced and our kids need to be in a space that reflects that so they can compete in an ever-changing market,” Infante-Green said.

Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News
Rogers High School students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during ceremonies for the new, $106 million replacement school June 17, 2022. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News