Dennis Runyan Ernest Molina

Agua Fria Union High School District Superintendent Dennis Runyan greets Agua Fria High School Principal Ernest Molina.

Agua Fria High School (AFHS) Principal Ernest Molina said it’s hard to put into words what the school’s latest renovations mean to him and his students.

AFHS — the oldest campus in the Agua Fria Union High School District (AFUHSD) — recently unveiled upgraded learning environments, including remodeled classroom spaces, an expanded science lab and a new student café funded by the voter-approved bond issue in November 2015.

Students, staff and DSLR Group and Chasse Building Team officials gathered in July at the high school in Avondale for a cornerstone celebration of improvements that AFUHSD Superintendent Dr. Dennis Runyan announced are phase one of a two-part project.

“What a great opportunity to upgrade this campus and all of the history that is in this school. All of our partners that have helped on this project as we move forward — our architects, DLR, as well as Chasse Building Team — we just appreciate your presence and participation,” Runyan said.

“Getting the opportunity to work with AFUHSD is a privilege for both myself and my Chasse teammates. Having the chance to revamp the historic AFHS campus is exciting and will provide unique learning spaces for many future Owls,” said Connor Lewis, Chasse project manager, in a statement.

Those learning spaces, which are expected to be complete by late November, will offer flexible classroom space, adaptable learning modes and collaborative teaching, DLR Group Senior Associate David Schmidt said.

“It’s the beginning of making Agua Fria’s campus look like what students and staff know that it is, feel that it is. Everybody knows that it’s great, but you don’t see that from the outside,” Schmidt said.

Because food service was conglomerated, “we created (the café), which will probably become a lot more than just food service, hopefully, in terms of after-school activities and community use,” Schmidt added.

While the new construction is transforming the campus, Molina said the design is very much representative of its heritage.

“One of the things that’s been real clear is that tradition piece — just like a capital “T” — reaches back into your past, but it also reaches into the future. That’s what this is,” Molina said.

“It reaches into what we’re really about: developing human potential and demonstrating our commitment to education, our commitment to tomorrow, our commitment to youth, our commitment to creating a workforce that’s college and career ready. All of those pieces. It’s exciting.”

Phase two of the project, which may include new structures and additions to the cafeteria, library and outdoor spaces, depends upon future funding sources that have not yet been identified.