Vermont Macy's store transformed into high school

Created: March 31, 2021 12:53 PM

Students who once shopped at a downtown mall in Burlington, Vermont, are now attending high school in the former Macy's department store.

The mall high school is complete with gleaming white tile floors and escalators whisking them to and from classes.

The existing Burlington High School was closed last August after toxic industrial chemicals known as PCBs were found in the building.

That left students stuck at home learning remotely for much of the school year during the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials eyed the closed Macy's store as an alternative and in-person learning started at the location on March 4.

Partial walls were added for classrooms while some remnants, like the Calvin Klein and Michael Kors signs remained.

The back wall of one classroom is dominated by a giant poster advertising jean maker Levi Strauss & Co.'s products.

The library is housed in the former Macy's china department, with books displayed on under-lit shelves

Even the entrance to the interim principal's office reminds visitors of the school's department store pedigree, with signage on top of the door indicating that it is a sprinkler control valve room.

While noise from the partial walls is a challenge, some students say they're happy to be back in school after being remote for much of the year.  

For now, the district has leased the building for 3 1/2 years while it learns more about the PCBs at the old school and what needs to be done.

After being remote for much of the year, several students said they are happy to reconnect with their peers and be part of the community.

(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)