Colegrove Park Elementary in North Adams ready for students


Photo Gallery | Colegrove Park Elementary School ready for students

NORTH ADAMS — The floors are shined, shelves are lined with books, and desks and chairs are in order.

As contractors completed finish work on the building, teachers and school staff continued the move into Colegrove Park Elementary School this week.

On Monday, students will fill the halls of the former Silvio O. Conte Middle School — which earlier still served as the original Drury High School — for the first time since 2010. As the $30 million renovation to the 19th century building winds down, school and city officials say the district is ready.

"It's getting there; we've moved all of the teacher material, all of our teachers are setting up their classrooms; the contractors are doing the final touch ups," Superintendent James Montepare told The Eagle on Wednesday.

Buses have been routed and parents have been notified of the new proceedings, Montepare said. For the first few days of classes at the new school, the city will keep a close eye on pedestrian safety nearby, according to Mayor Richard Alcombright.

The district held two open houses at Colegrove in December to allow students to find their classrooms and tour the rest of the building.

"They know the building a little bit, and I'm sure it's going to be an adjustment for everyone, but the teachers have been in for a couple weeks," Montepare said.

Debbie Sala, a Title I reading instructor at Colegrove, said it's been a busy few weeks, but it feels good to have everything moved into the new school.

"I'm thrilled with our new space. It is such a comfortable environment," Sala said. "For those of us who went to Drury High School there, it's a fun trip down memory lane as well. I took my mom, Lorraine Maloney, to help me unpack. She graduated in 1951; she was in awe."

Montepare commended the teachers' efforts to move into new spaces. "They've really stepped up," he said. "It's an anxious time for people, but it really gave people a chance to go through what they have and purge and leave things that they really haven't utilized for a period of time; so it was a good reboot for their classrooms."

Teachers and administrators are working together to schedule "unpack days" during Colegrove's opening week to allow teachers to settle further into their new spaces, according to Erica Manville, the after-school and community outreach coordinator at Colegrove and co-chairwoman of the North Adams Teachers Association.

"I'm really excited for the chance to community build and have a great new start, I think it's a great opportunity for the teachers and the kids," Manville said.

Monetpare's excitement about the 78,000-square-foot school is palpable. On top of preserved details from the former Drury High — exterior brick walls, columns, stained glass windows and century-old wood floors — the school's gymnasium is about three times the size of Sullivan's, its heating and cooling systems are brand new, and its windows are energy-efficient.

"The classrooms are big, they're bright, they're clean," Montepare said. "There's enough space now for additional things like project rooms and reading laboratories, and just all kinds of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech areas."

As teachers and staff have moved in their belongings, Alcombright said contractors have been working to complete a "punch list" of minor touch-ups and fixes throughout the building.

"My bigger concerns as I was walking the building was just checking out the punch list items, [but] there's nothing of any substance at all," Alcombright said.

The building has also received a thorough cleaning, which was a point of concern for the school building committee in recent weeks — so much so that officials threatened to hire a private cleaner and bill the general contractor for its time.

"The building looks significantly better, let's put it that way," Alcombright said.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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