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Wildcats anxiously await return to their campus

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It's good news for the Home of the Wildcats as they'll make a return to their den in Barrigada from their interim home in Tiyan as early as next school year.

"The last time I actually stepped foot on this special place was three years ago. I was only a young 6th grader then, and I only stayed here for five months. Although I stayed here for half of my 6th grade year, this will always be home," explained Angelina Milralles. "This Barrigada campus has been standing strong for a long time."

Her memories on the Barrigada campus may be limited, but for the now-8th grade Miralles, the building continues to hold a special place in her heart. After all, it's the same school her mother and siblings attended. "After generations of learning its time to restore Untalan Middle School back to its former glory," she stated.

It was back in January 2012 the Wildcats made the move from the Barrigada campus to the CoreTech facility in Tiyan. This followed a walkthrough of the campus with regulatory agencies who raised concerns for the building's "structural deficiencies." Those deficiencies and more will be addressed in the coming months as stakeholders turned the gravel, marking the start of renovations to the Barrigada school. The project, which was awarded to contractors BME & Sons, will include renovations to the interior and exteriors of administrative offices, the library, cafeteria, existing concrete classrooms, and the four restroom facilities.

It will also include renovations to eight temporary classrooms, four of which will be relocated. Also on the to-do list, DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez says Wildcats will stay dry thanks to work set to be done to address flooding. "The grading of the flooding areas and construction of drainage facilities. I know many of you went to school here and are familiar with the facility know that the flooding was an issue here and you can still see the mud-stained walls if you walk through the building," he said.

That's in addition to resurfacing and restriping of the parking lot, construction of 13 new concrete classrooms and a new restroom facility, construction of new covered walkways, demolition of the old tin awnings, a new rear parking and drop off area, and improved lighting and plumbing. "The timeline, once construction begins, there's a 240-day timeframe for the renovation to be completed under the contract and the completion date is scheduled for July 16, 2014,
 he said.

Meanwhile, work has already been done to address other parts of the school as Fernandez notes the same ARRA trust funds were already invested to address the gym, upgrades to the fire alarm system, roofing repairs, and renovations for 16 science, technology, engineering and mathematics classrooms.

With excitement building for the school's re-opening next school year, Speaker Judi Won Pat asks one thing from students and staff, noting, "I ask you, take ownership. Please take ownership of your school because there are so many other schools who will not have the same opportunities you'll have when you move here."

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