Published in the September 21, 2015 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Principal Adam Colantuoni has a perspective on the new Galvin Middle School unlike that of anyone else.
“I have had the unique experience of working at the old Galvin Middle School as an assistant principal and was initially involved in the very beginning phases of planning what an ideal middle school would look like,” said the first-year Galvin principal. “Upon returning to the new Galvin, it is beyond impressive what was able to be accomplished.”
Colantuoni left the Galvin in 2013 to become principal of a middle school in Hanover. But he is thrilled to be back in his hometown, doing what he loves.
“I had a wonderful experience in Hanover as the principal of the middle school,” he says. “I was able to work with some really talented educators who I developed great relationships with. However I could not pass up an opportunity to apply for the Galvin principal opening. I am really excited to be back home and work under the leadership of Dr. Smith and with so many amazing educators and colleagues.
“I grew up in Wakefield and went through the school system having the best teachers, mentors and role-models which makes it so meaningful for me to have the same opportunity to try and do the same for the students I work with now.”
Colantuoni has nothing but praise for all those who saw the Galvin project through to its finish.
“The former principal, Mr. Bedrosian, did an amazing job working with all the various groups to see this project through and offer our community a state-of-the-art learning environment for students and staff,” he says. “There really is no comparison between the old and new schools.”
While the school was in use last year, the current school year marks the first year that students and staff will get to experience the full benefit of a the completely finished Galvin Middle School.
“The gym and music wing were completed over the summer and students have had full access to these spaces since the beginning of school,” Colantuoni says. “We had an opening day ceremony in the gym to for students and staff to see how impressive it is and to welcome us all together at the start of school. Our students endured two years of construction without having access to a gym for Physical Education class and other school wide events.”
Also for the first time this school year, students will be able to use all of the outdoor athletic facilities.
“The fields are amazing and provide not just our students but the entire town an outstanding athletic experience,” Colantuoni says. “To have a middle school with two large fields, two basketball courts and additional green space is a tremendous advantage and opportunity for our students. They love having Physical Education class outside after having endured two years of construction without any outdoor space to have PE class.”
Music education also now has a home of its own.
“The music wing provides our students opportunities for high quality instruction and engagement,” Colantuoni says. “The wing includes separate spaces for band, orchestra, chorus and music appreciation. The gym and music wing will be a tremendous opportunity for all students in our system as well as the community.”
What former generations called the school library, now goes by a different name, “Learning Commons.” The mission hasn’t changed as much as the media have.
“The Learning Commons differs from a traditional library in the sense that it provides students a blend of engaging, quality print materials and texts as well as access to 21st century learning tools such as Google Chrome Books, desktop computers, collaborative learning spaces and student friendly furniture,” Colantuoni explains.
The finished school now has a different traffic pattern than it had last year while site work was still going on around the school.
“The traffic pattern has worked well this year in terms of student safety,” Colantuoni says. “Currently there is two-way traffic onto our campus to allow parents access from Main Street and North Avenue and this has created a few operational challenges for our staff in terms of establishing best practices during drop-off and pickup. We have a very large volume of cars that enter and leave our campus in a short time period so our number one priority is always going to be student safety.”
Principal Colantuoni says that he appreciates the assistance of the Wakefield Police Department in ensuring student safety. He said that parents have also been cooperative and attentive to the safety of students. Any additional traffic or minor delays on surrounding streets is to be expected, he says, when you have a school with over 1,100 students in the center of town.
One of the few yet-to-be-finished features is a skateboard park on the south side of the Galvin campus.
“The latest update I have about the skate park is an October finish,” Colantuoni says. “We will be sure to communicate any updates to the community.”
The new Galvin principal couldn’t be happier to be at the new Galvin School and back in his old home town.
“I am so excited for our learning community to have this opportunity,” Colantuoni says, “and with that comes great responsibility to maintain what so many worked so hard to accomplish. My vision is to work with our staff to create a school where every child experiences individual academic and social success and considers the Galvin to be their home for the next four years.”