Students at the historic West Point's Middle School can now do their athletics in a new gymnasium and not in their cafeteria. This is where they had to hold their physical education for over a year while an extensive renovation was being performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.

But the wait was worth it. The renovation of the gym and many other features at the school was recently completed at the landmark structure that serves the children of service members at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"The students are going to benefit greatly by this renovation. They will have access to learning spaces that are safe, modern, and efficient and they will have a setting in which 21st century curricular objectives may be pursued," said David Rudy, Principal of the West Point Middle School. "This project is also a testament to the military's commitment to provide world-class educational opportunities for the children of the men and women serving in our nation's military."

In 2011, Army Corps contractor Benard Associates of Wayne N.J. began the renovation of the school. The project included renovating the existing school that was built in 1934 , which was designated a landmark, demolishing a wing to the school that was built in 1954 and constructing a new approximately 31,000 square foot addition.

The more modern 62,000 square foot educational facility now includes a new state-of-the-art general purpose, art, science and music classrooms that have interactive smart boards and wireless Internet access. This includes a new digital arts lab and clay workroom in the art classrooms and a new acoustic band room, as well as a full digital video production studio.

In addition, the school has an improved gymnasium, cafeteria, playground, restrooms, library, parking area and handicapped access, as well as a new central air system, security system and fire protection and communication intercom system.

The new structure meets the environmental requirements to be certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. The school qualifies because it has energy-efficient doors and windows; additional windows to make use of natural light; energy efficient hot water heating and chilled water cooling systems; upgraded insulation; water conserving toilets; and motion detector faucets.

The West Point campus is filled with historic buildings, including the 80-year-old middle school. "To maintain the historic look and feel of the campus we did a few things," said Larry Danner, project engineer and contracting office representative, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.

"In the new renovated 1934 building we made sure that the new brick and precast bands and caps matched the existing building colors; we incorporated the original wood floors into the new main office spaces; and we used the original 1934 library shelving in the parent waiting area of the new main office."

Principal Rudy said, "Stakeholders have been very impressed at how the project modernized the facility while maintaining its historic appearance."

Dr. JoAnne Castagna is a Public Affairs Specialist and Writer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at