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Gallery: Ribbon Cutting at Center Elementary School

Yesterday’s ceremony brought together current and former staff and officials

Residents are invited to tour the new Center Elementary School today from 10 a.m. to noon. Note that children must be accompanied by an adult. If it’s too cold to venture out, check out these photos from the formal ribbon cutting that was held yesterday.

The event celebrated the current and former state and local officials, administrators, contractors and staff who were instrumental in opening the school on time and slightly below the allotted $98 million budget — a significant accomplishment given that the foundation was poured in August 2020, at the height of Covid, and construction has proceeded through supply chain challenges and high inflation.

Scroll through to see photos and a link to a video of the entire ceremony from Tewksbury TV.

An artist’s rendering of the new school.

Organizers expressed appreciation for all the Tewksbury town departments that assisted the building committee and project teams.

Superintendent Brenda Theriault-Regan welcomed guests and asked, “So how many superintendents does it take to build a school?”

She recognized her predecessors Christine McGrath, John O’Connor and Chris Malone for their efforts in both the high school and upper elementary school projects.

The Center Elementary School was approved by the Massachusetts School Building Committee in 2015. The Building Committee formed in 2016, and in 2017, Town Meeting voted to approve the expenditure.

“This new school is an example of when we all pull in one direction, great things can happen,” said Regan.

Grade 2 students performed a musical selection.

Grade 4 students read an original poem that reflected on the consolidation of the Trahan and North St. schools and how the communities have come together.

The bricks, the roof, the earth below,
The solid walls of what we know,
The space we fill, the scenery,
Does this make all this place can be?
The light and shade that once we sensed,
The whole community condensed
Into one whole familiar space,
To what extent are we this place?

Or rather are we hearts and minds,
With bricks and mortar left behind?
The bonds we form, the friends we make
The things we need not pack to take.
The built-up skills, the lessons learned,
The wealth of our respect, hard earned.
We are this school — both me and you,
And if we move, the school moves too.

Tewksbury Representatives Vanna Howard and Tram Nguyen spoke, along with Senator Barry Finegold.

“I’m just so thrilled for the results that came from the collaboration of the local level, the state level and just so many people pitching in,” said Nguyen.

DESE Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley congratulated the town on opening the school on time and below budget.

“I think communities are judged by how they treat their kids,” said Riley. “And today is just another statement about how much Tewksbury cares about its kids.”

Riley was preceded by MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy. MSBA invested $31 million in the Center Elementary project.

“Benjamin Franklin once said an investment in education pays the best interest,” said McCarthy, who called out the work Tewksbury’s delegation did at the state level. “You folks have no idea how much behind-the-scenes work they do for projects like this — you have a great legislative delegation.”

He also addressed the assembled students.

“I just want to talk to the young scholars that we have here today,” he said. “The majority of the money for this building came from the citizens of his town. They went to the polls and voted to raise their own taxes. Like who does that!? But I look around at the faces of you scholars, and it makes so much sense because you deserve it. And they recognize that you deserve it.” 

Anne Marie Stronach, chair of the Elementary School Building Committee, called out “the A Team School Committee — Krissy Polimeno, Arthy Bennett, Brian Dick, Dennis Francis and Jayne Wellman” who got the project approved in 2017.

Stronach worked tirelessly on the Elementary School Building Committee, along with Vice-Chair Jamie Cutelis. Much of the credit for the successful opening goes to them.

Principal Jay Harding and vice-principal Robert Rogers received a warm welcome.

“It got very real for us this year, running the daily operations of two buildings, all the while assuring our students and our staff, that all will be okay,” said Harding. The staff managed to make the new school ready for students in just three days.

“It was truly wonderful to be a part of such a memorable day for our town,” School Committee member Kayla Biagioni-Smith told the Carnation. “The prolonged round of applause Mr Harding received should stand as a testament to just how proud the community is! I’m looking forward to hearing about the exciting new experiences our current and future students will have at the Center Elementary School.”

School Committee Chair Bridget Garabedien thanked staff who don’t live in town yet “pour their hearts and souls” into educating our children and worked so hard to make the new school a reality.

Ribbon cutting (l-r) Anne Marie Stronach, Jeffrey Riley, Jay Harding, Jack McCarthy, Brenda Regan and Robert Rogers.

Officer Waffles was in attendance.

The plaque recognizing:
The Elementary School Building Committee: Anne Marie Stronach, Chair, James Cutelis, Vice-Chair,
Dennis Francis, Jonathan Ciampa, Thomas Cooke, Shannon Demos, Jay S. Harding, David Libby,
Christopher Malone, Richard Montuori, Eric Ryder, Jacquelyn Simione, John Stadtman, Lori C. Sustek, Brenda Theriault-Regan, Clerk, and Maria Cutelis, Secretary

Select Board: Jay J. Kelly, Chair; Jayne Wellman, Vice-Chair; Todd Johnson; James F. Mackey III; and Anne Marie Stronach

School Committee: Keith M. Sullivan, Chair; Shannon Demos, Vice-Chair; Bridget Garabedian; Nicholas Parsons; and John Stadtman

Owner’s Project Manager: CBRE | HEERY; Architect: Flansburgh Architects Construction Manager: Consigli Construction Co, Inc.

Former elected officials Arthy Bennett, Krissy Polimeno and Brian Dick all worked on the new school.

Todd Johnson and Jayne Wellman represented the Select Board and are seen here with Planning Board Chair Stephen Johnson, who is seeking to join them.

Students have been in the new school since Jan. 5 and spent some of that time creating banners.

The school has several STEAM labs.

Outdoor learning area, for warmer days.

A number of mementos from the old Center School and the Trahan and North St. are on display.

The library has an instruction area as well as seating nooks.

The gym looks out on Doucette Field.

A history wall tells the story of the town, from the Line of March …

To our Native American heritage …

To schools through the years and …

Our favorite panel, which highlights Tewksbury’s history as the Carnation Capital.

Lockers are decorated with messages of appreciation for the new school.

The cafetorium from above.

Watch the full ceremony here courtesy of Tewksbury TV.

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.


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