End-of-year ceremonies at the Lake Region Vocational Center in Naples likely would have been held in the high school auditorium, if construction had stayed on schedule.

But the renovation of the vocational wing was completed a couple months ahead of time, in April instead of June. So an awards ceremony, senior parents’ night and a school board meeting at which staff members were recognized were all held in a new dining room between two kitchens built for the center’s culinary programs.

“It’s really handy,” said Rosie Schacht, director of the vocational center.

Once students vacate the premises this week, construction crews will ramp up their work on the renovation of Lake Region High School — the final piece of a $13.8 million project that began in the fall of 2010 and is on track to be completed by September.

“It will be pretty busy here during the summer,” said Andy Madura, the school district’s director of transportation, facilities and food service.

The work left at the high school is on classroom space, guidance and administrative offices, and the kitchen and cafeteria, which have been in a modular building for the past few months. As soon as students are dismissed for the year on Tuesday, Madura said, “we’re going to jump right on it.”

Already complete is a new, 30,000-square-foot educational services building, home to the vocational center’s automotive and construction technology programs and the district’s bus garage and maintenance offices. Students and staff members moved into that space in January.

The relocation of those vocational programs has opened up more space in the main building, which houses the rest of vocational center programs in one wing and the high school in another.

Madura said the project affects about 60 percent of the existing 172,000-square-foot building, which is getting a 40,000-square-foot addition.

It addresses concerns raised by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in its accreditation reports, which took issue with the air quality and space constraints of the 42-year-old building.

Not long after learning that its accreditation was in jeopardy, the high school found itself on a list of Maine’s 10 persistently underachieving schools — a designation given two years ago to schools that showed low reading and math proficiency and little progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Lake Region received a $1.6 million grant to make changes over a three-year period to try to raise achievement.

Principal Ted Finn said it’s fitting that the renovation will be wrapping up as the school enters the final year of its turnaround.

“While the school is getting a physical makeover, we’re getting an internal makeover,” he said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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