By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — A new beginning.
That’s what the 1,095 students in grades five through eight were given this morning when the doors of the brand-new educational part of the $74 million Galvin Middle School opened for the first time.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike. “We have a state-of-the-art facility in the center of Wakefield. It’s something families and teachers deserve.”
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio agreed. “It’s a great day for the town,” he said.
Today is the first day of the 2014-15 academic year for students.
The Daily Item was on hand at the Galvin to photograph the occasion and record the sentiments behind the school’s opening. Students and drivers were orderly and patiently awaited the school’s opening.
Words like “awesome,” “pretty” and “terrific” were the choices most teachers, students and parents used to describer the new energy-efficient school.
Marc Turiano, recently hired to teach health, wellness and physical education, said that when he interviewed for his job the meeting was held inside the old Galvin Middle School.
“It’s awesome for a new teacher to come into a new building,” he said. “It’s a little hectic but everyone is excited about it — including me.”
Before the doors opened and classes got underway this morning, Principal Mark Bedrosian assembled all four grades in the athletics field next to the school.
It was there that he asked everyone to face the school while he delivered an opening day message, including a brief history and comments about General John R. Galvin, for whom the school is named.
Galvin, a four-star general, began his service as an enlisted man in the Massachusetts National Guard in 1947. He served in uniform for over 45 years. During his military career, he was in command of two different Department of Defense United Commands, first in Panama from 1985 to 1987 and then as Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command from 1987 to 1992.
Deteriorating conditions in the old school, built in 1954, brought a vote before Town Meeting in 2010, seeking funds for the building of a new school. At the time, Joan Landers was Superintendent of Schools.
During the feasibility study phase, the town and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) collaborated to find the most fiscally responsible and educationally appropriate solution to the problems at the 55-year-old Galvin Middle School. The study required that the town complete a number of prerequisites before an agreement was signed. About 55 percent of the cost of the new school is being paid for by the MSBA.
The town borrowed $686,400 for the feasibility study, which took place over 18 months and Tappe Associates, an architectural firm, was hired to oversee the project.
In May 2013, a groundbreaking ceremony was held.
Dr. Zrike said there is a “great potential for learning with endless technology, wonderful climate and ample space.”
“Having a flagship school will transform education in town,” he said. “I’m thankful to citizens and town leaders and instructional staff and project managers for making this possible to get the school open on time. It’s a very exciting day for us all.”