At new Mount Greylock Regional School, a truly first day
WILLIAMSTOWN — After more than 10 years of plans, votes, designs, demolition and construction, the new Mount Greylock Regional School welcomed roughly 560 students to a first day of school Monday.
The $64.8 million project was supported by voters in both Williamstown and Lanesborough and took two years to build.
Now, the building has become a school, as Mount Greylock Superintendent Kim Grady put it recently.
Principal Mary MacDonald said there are a few minor aesthetic elements to add, such as a sign in the entry, but for the most part the project is complete. And the extra week people had to prepare the classrooms was key.
"I think we're there," MacDonald said. "The teachers, custodians and secretaries have been working very hard to turn it around in time. And the delay of the start of school by two days has been successful."
Standing outside the entrance in the rain with bus schedules in his hands Monday, School Counselor P.J. Pannesco helped clusters of students find their buses home after school ended.
During a lull, he said the school is a vast improvement over the former structure.
"It's beautiful," he said. "It's amazing — state of the art. Even lunch was OK."
MacDonald noted that the seventh grade came in a little bigger than expected, so the first lunch period was a bit cozy. There is talk about bringing in another table or two. She said such adjustments are normal for a new school building, and as the days and weeks progress, such items will be checked off.
"It will take a little while to settle in," she said.
Living in it
Other minor items, like making sure everyone has the right door keys and being sure software is communicating with new technologies, are part of moving in, MacDonald noted.
"And we still have some more furniture to purchase, but we'll need to live in the space for a little bit before we can see where the needs are," she said.
Teachers have been putting a lot of thought into modifications that need to be made, either in classroom use or other unforeseen challenges.
"I learned a long time ago that the beauty of the Mount Greylock faculty is that they are problem-solvers," MacDonald said. "They will come to me with a problem, but they'll already have a solution in mind."
MacDonald has heard students say they are anxious to try out the school's flexible learning spaces, both indoors and outside. But that had to wait for clear skies.
"We were looking to create independence and with that foster responsibility and that's how these flexible learning spaces are designed," she said.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority is contributing $33.2 million toward the $64.8 million project. The local share is between $31.5 million and $35.3 million.
The Mount Greylock High School building on Cold Spring Road was built in 1960. At its height in the 1970s, the school served roughly 1,200 students in 177,000 square feet of space.
Now it houses roughly 560 students from Grades 7 through 12 in the new 133,000-square-foot building.
Scott Stafford can be reached at email@example.com or 413-629-4517.
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