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HAMMOND — The School City of Hammond celebrated a major milestone Monday in its $115 million new school project behind the current Hammond High School.

School officials, constructions workers and members of the Hammond community gathered to sign the final steel beam placed Monday afternoon at the top of a progressing academic wing at the northeast corner of the project just off of Calumet Avenue.

The new 340,000-square foot school, slated to open in fall 2021, will include three gymnasiums, more than 60 classrooms and multiple performance spaces, and will likely serve secondary students in the School City of Hammond. The project is funded through the district's 2017 construction referendum.

Crews are currently completing overhead mechanical work, securing interior masonry walls, working on exterior brick and roofing and pouring concrete floors throughout the site, representatives from The Skillman Corp.'s project management team said.

The current Hammond High School, which sits just in front of the construction site, will be demolished upon completion of the new building.

Sydne Rich, a graduate of the Hammond High School Class of 1976, said the project carries special meaning in her family — including relatives now living in Maryland and Georgia who went to the school. Flying in herself from the east coast, Rich signed the final beam placed atop the new school in their honor.

"It's such a legacy for my family that went here," Rich said. "This school means so much to us. It was a great place."

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State Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond, was also in attendance, along with a handful of school officials and school board members. The representative said she drives by the project often and has been impressed with it's progress.

"It's a beautiful building in a beautiful place," Jackson said.

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.