Old Hunking School Gym Comes Down as New School Rises

Demolition of the Hunking School gymnasium began this morning. (Photograph by Dana Esmel.)

A milestone was reached this morning in the ongoing Hunking School building project as a portion of the old school met the wrecking crane.

Thursday marked the beginning of a “phased” demolition of the 57-year old Hunking middle school building. It is being replaced, as early as December, by a new $61.5 million campus housing grades K-8. The old school’s gymnasium and auditorium section is coming down, in part, to replace staff parking and student play space lost to the new school construction before students return from summer vacation, according to Haverhill Superintendent of Schools James F. Scully.

“It allows the site to be enlarged so when students come back to school they won’t be in the area where there’s actual construction going on. The piece of the old Hunking adjacent to the new Hunking, that will be a large play area,” Scully said. He told WHAV the old classrooms will remain in use until, at least, December when the new school building is expected to be complete.

“This enables the school to stay functional, with classrooms and what have you, for about four months and allows us to get the adjacent pieces to the new Hunking complete. Hopefully by the end of December, we’ll be ready to move,” Scully said.

Also, Scully said, moving elementary students from Greenleaf School, among others, to the new Hunking will wait until next summer. “It will be 50 percent populated this January and then, June or September, be 100 percent populated with about 1,000 students,” he added.

And in place of the remaining portion of the old Hunking, new additional playing fields will be created. “When we tear this piece down here, we begin grading for the fields. So by next summer this whole site should be ready to go. Then there’s a question of the turf because that takes time to mature. It may be another year before the fields are mature so it doesn’t get sustained damage,” Scully said.

Scully added the new Hunking construction project is running about “three or four weeks ahead of schedule” and, possibly, with cost savings.

“We’ve been under budget all along. Whether there’s a cost saving at the end because of the schedule remains to be seen,” Scully said. “Our budget numbers are better than projected in the beginning. We haven’t had one problem with any labor group. We haven’t had any problem with any of the trades, Everybody has gotten along well and the whole project’s been really smooth.”

The new Hunking School continues to rise, with an initial opening planned by next January.

The new Hunking School continues to rise, with an initial opening planned by next January.