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Queens High School Secures $20 Million To Overhaul Neglected Athletic Field

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A multi-million dollar announcement allows a major overhaul at a Queens high school to take off.

Lorraine Gittens-Bridges thumbed through her August Martin High School yearbook from 1980. Among her fondest memories, celebrating the 1979 championship track team.

"I'm not just telling you something that, 'Oh, I remember when.' The history is written right here," she said.

But it's been years since the roar of a crowd filled the school's stadium.

Rising seniors Janiyah Hill and Alana Razack have never been in the stands.

"We take so many wins outside of home, and we want to feel that more at home," Janiyah said.

After years of neglect, weeds now cover what was the baseball mound and bases. The rest of the field is no better, forcing the school's teams, including football, to travel to other schools to play home games.

As CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, the turf has come completely undone, spanning most of the football field. That's why school leaders say the facility is not just in disrepair; they've deemed it dangerous.

For years, Councilwoman Adrienne Adams has been advocating for the funding.

"We will finally have a brand new field that we can all be proud of," Adams said.

She's now taking a victory lap after securing $20 million for the overhaul of the athletic field, thanks to a surplus in city funding.

Students say the impact is so much bigger than sports.

"It's something to look forward to, and it's just, like, you know, instead of just leaving right after school, there's activities they can do after school so that, you know, they don't get in trouble," Alana said.

Even though the field won't be complete until after Janiyah and Alana graduate, they look forward to seeing the improvements.

"It's home. We're coming back. We're coming back," Alana said.

"This is home, like, this is August Martin. Like, how can you not come back?" Janiyah said.

The upgrades are expected to be a point of pride for the whole neighborhood.

Construction begins next school year and is expected to last for two years. Once complete, the principal says students want to begin soccer and cricket teams.

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