The new regional vocational high school in Danvers is nearing completion and prospective students and their families will be able to check it out up close this weekend.
An open house is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 19 from 9 a.m. - noon at the Maple Street campus, which is currently home to Essex Agricultural and Technical High School, more affectionately known as "Essex Aggie."
The new school, which encompasses more than 300,000 square feet, sits primarily on fields across the street from the Aggie's main campus buildings.
Saturday's event represents the first opportunity parents with eighth-grade students have to check out what the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School will be offering when their children move on to high school next fall.
That's 24 career paths structured in four academies (each containing 360 students) inside a state-of-the-art facility. The academies are Animal & Plant Science, Construction Technology, Life & Natural Sciences and Technology & Services, allowing students to study everything from culinary arts to robotics and biotechnology.
Construction began on the long-awaited project in 2012 and has largely remained on time and on budget since then -- $133 million and ready to open by September 2014 with 1,440 students.
At the helm of the new school will be Dan O'Connell, who was appointed Superintendent in March. O'Connell was formerly the principal and then superintendent for North Shore Technical High School, which is one of the three schools merging together in the new voke school.
The other two schools are Essex Aggie and the vocational school at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School.
All told there are 17 cities and towns that make up the district for the new school. They are: Peabody, Danvers, Salem, Beverly, Hamilton, Wenham, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Swampscott, Nahant, Topsfield, Middleton, Boxford, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Essex, Gloucester and Rockport.