School officials look over the flooring finish done by the district during Wednesday morning’s dedication of the Food Commons at Marysville Pilchuck High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

With new Marysville Pilchuck cafeteria, ‘we’re moving forward’

MARYSVILLE — Starting in January, the students at Marysville Pilchuck High School will have a new place to gather and eat.

The new cafeteria and commons is complete. The glazed windows and exposed steel supports are a stark contrast to the 1970s-era cinder block and brick facades elsewhere on campus.

“We’re not forgetting anything, but we’re moving forward,” Marysville Schools Superintendent Becky Berg said.

The old cafeteria has been shuttered since the deadly October 2014 shootings.

A public ribbon-cutting for the new building, called the Food Commons, will be held later in the spring, Principal Rob Lowry said.

“The kids said they didn’t want any fanfare, just to open it,” he said. “They want to get past all this.”

Last week students got a chance to walk through the new space. Stephanie Vargas, the senior class president, said it would be an improvement over the current situation. Students have been crowded into the school’s second, smaller cafeteria or they eat lunch in the gym or classrooms.

“We’re all cramped,” Vargas said.

The open space has south-facing floor-to-ceiling windows and an exposed ceiling. The room is filled with natural light and offers a view of the school grounds. The building uses less energy and potable water than those built to standard codes.

“They’ve done a nice job of merging the building with the surrounding nature,” school board President Pete Lundberg said.

The serving stations will have menus on overhead monitors, said principal architect Bill Chaput of Hutteball & Oremus Architects. The kitchen is large enough to prepare meals for five other schools in addition to Marysville Pilchuck.

Other amenities include student leadership offices and a dedicated classroom for DECA marketing students next to the store they will run and maintain.

The store has an espresso maker, a frozen yogurt machine, a rice cooker and a panini press. There is a serving window to the main gym, so the store can serve evening events, too.

The total cost of the commons project was $8.3 million, with $5 million coming from a special appropriation from the Legislature, $2.6 million from state matching funds and $700,000 from the district’s capital projects budget.

The old building likely will be demolished. That work was planned to be paid for through the 2015 bond measure that failed.

There are no definite plans for that now, district spokeswoman Emily Wicks said.

Superintendent Berg credited former state Rep. Hans Dunshee for leading the drive to obtain the funding.

“I hope that this building is a tool of healing and a tool of unity,” Dunshee said. “It is a joy to have an opportunity to do good for so many people.”

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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