ROCHESTER, N.Y. — When James Monroe High School students enter the halls for the new school year Wednesday, they’ll be walking into a completely modernized building.

“This place is essentially a new building,” modernization program manager Rob Skeele said. “This has been a work in progress for seven years actually, four years in preconstruction, and then three following that actually built the project.”

It’s one of 26 schools to benefit from a $650 million modernization program in the Rochester City School District.



“It was very much needed, and what we came back to, I couldn’t stop smiling for a long time," said biology teacher Patrick O'Connor.

The outside might not look much different, but inside there’s a new library, complete with a hand-painted mural.

“The idea is to give this place a sense of home, sense of community and identity," Skeele said. "Several of the titles are relevant to the student body here, hand-selected by the administration.”

There's also now a competition gym to replace their old one and allow the school to host games. 

“They are going to have home games at this building. First time in its history.” Skeele said.

Students will also have a new cafeteria after the old one was torn down to make way for the high school’s first football field.

“Where we look now at a new kitchen, once was a swimming pool," Skeele said. "So it’s kind of an interesting domino-effect to accommodate that athletic complex.”

And the football field itself.

“When I went home I actually shed a tear, because I thought we’d never have a football field,” said senior and varsity football player Tyquil Glasgow.

And of course, all new classrooms equipped with 80-inch screens and Chromebook laptops for the students.

“I think the kids are going to be very motivated and very excited to be here, ready to learn,” O'Connor said.

With a total cost of about $92 million, Principal Sandra Chevalier-Blackman said it was worth it all for the students.

“They’re going to be proud to walk in to the school and say this is home, this is my school,” she said.

Students agree.

“It’s gonna be a good learning environment, it’s gonna be great," Glasgow said. "Makes me want to get to class on time.”