CHS gets ready with new turf, ongoing construction

The Claremont High School campus has been busier than usual this summer. Demolition continues on the CHS Theatre, and its renovation should be completed at the end of February. On July 23, Dana Toland, superintendent of PCM Construction, led a tour of the gutted structure for CHS Principal Brett O’Connor, Assistant Principal Steven Patterson and COURIER staff.

With much of the stage and several walls and staircases ripped out, the theater looked cavernous. When it reopens, it will feature stadium-style seating, handicap accessible ramps, a new lobby and ticket area and an expanded backstage with room for lighting, costuming, makeup and props.

Meanwhile, FieldTurf workers are laying down new turf on the football field, which will be completed by Friday, August 17. The football team is currently practicing on the baseball outfield.

Seams still have to be sewn on the new turf, which rests on a bed of sand and rubber pellets recycled from the old turf. After that, the attention of CHS facilities workers will turn to the repainting of the lines on the track.

By the time the paint dries, it will almost be time for the Wolfpack’s inaugural football game against Great Oak High School on Friday, August 24. The game is taking place in advance of the first day of school, Wednesday, August 29, because CIF has moved its season up to allow an extra week for state playoffs.

The previous turf lasted 11 years, exceeding its projected life of 10 years. After being used extensively for a variety of sports and activities, the old turf had definitely lost its “oomph,” according to Principal O’Connor. The torn-up squares of the old turf have the consistency and resilience of the synthetic grass used to cushion treats in Easter baskets.

Called FieldTurf Revolution, the new turf—which is also expected to last 10 years—is said to degrade more slowly than the previous turf, and to have better drainage.

It’s the second time turf has been installed on the football field. Before that, the high school had a grass field, which—given the fact that it’s used for football, soccer, track and field and PE—didn’t hold up well.

“In the old days, by the time we got to the end of the school year, the grass on the existing football field was demolished,” Rick Dutton, athletic director, recalled. “From one goal line to the other goal line, it was just dirt, with a little grass on the sidelines. It was overused.”

Each year, CHS sports teams would have to take a month-long summer hiatus from practice so the grass could re-grow. Other drawbacks to the grass field included the heavy use of water and the fact that potholes and ruts tended to develop, posing a risk of injury for the school’s athletes. The turf has been a big improvement, but it’s definitely been in need of replacement.

“The field had lost all its bounce. We’re looking forward to  the new turf,” Mr. Dutton said.

Football fans will have something else to appreciate along with fresh turf and a nicely-painted track. The football boosters have installed 80 seats in the stadium, which they plan to sell to season ticket-holders as an annual fundraiser. Those who splurge will have their own special seats reserved throughout the course of the football season.

“It’s a good idea—kind of a novelty,” Mr. Dutton said.

—Sarah Torribio




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