HANNIBAL, Mo. -- During Wednesday night's meeting of the Hannibal Board of Education, it was officially announced that an open house at Hannibal High School will take place from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18.
The fact that the open house coincides with homecoming is no coincidence, said Rich Stilley, business manager for the Hannibal #60 School District.
"It will be a great opportunity to have former students, former staff and current staff come tour the building and see the improvements," he said. "It will definitely be an exciting time for anyone who wants to come out and participate."
When the idea of having an open house was proposed during the Aug. 21 school board meeting, it was suggested that it would occur in September. Having it later has given district personnel more opportunity to prepare the entire school for public viewing.
"It has given us time to really spit shine the rest of the building," Stilley said. "We are very proud of the work we've done and what it looks like."
Stilley said that through Aug. 31 the school district had spent about $5 million on the renovation of HHS.
"Our community supported us with an 85 percent approval on this bond issue," he said. "We just want to show the public what they are getting for trusting us with their money."
Stilley is optimistic that the timing of the open house will attract a number of visitors.
"We are hoping it (turnout) is very good because it is during homecoming week, and there will be a lot of activity in the stadium," he said.
Even though the project has been going on for months, it's still a topic of discussion that could help drive up attendance at the open house.
"I think there has been some word-of-mouth," Stilley said. "Students are going home and talking about it (renovation progress)."
Also enhancing local interest in the project has been the school district's efforts to provide regular progress reports.
"We did a pretty good job of indicating where we were (on the renovations) through social media. We let everybody know what was going on," Stilley said.
While students, their parents and members of the HHS staff have had the opportunity to see firsthand the improvements, Stilley said there are still groups that may not have seen the renovations for themselves.
"The former staff and maybe people who attended (HHS) but do not have any students now, that is who we really want to reach," he said. "We want people to come back and be proud of what we have done."
Stilley is elated that the renovation work has not cost the building its character.
"The most impressive part is that with all this construction, and we have new drop ceilings, we didn't lose the flavor of the building's architecture. It still has that original feel, but it's just so much brighter and fresh looking," he said.
The format of the open house has yet to be finalized.
"We are working out the details," Stilley said. "We are not sure if we will have student-led tours or if we are just going to have the building open so people can walk around and reminisce, and think about where we were, where we have come and envision where we are going to go."
There is a good chance that most, if not all, of the renovation project will be completed by the open house.
"It is going to be real close," Stilley said. "We are finishing up with some units on top of Patterson Gym. A little work remains in the auditorium, but the auditorium is getting really close. By Oct. 1 everything should be done."