Published in the July 23, 2015 edition


NORTH READING — The planned razing of the old North Reading High School is currently on schedule, Superintendent of Schools Jon Bernard said this week.

Bernard said contractors began preparing to raze the old high school the day students were released for the 2014-15 academic year on Monday, June 29. He noted contractors got a late start on the process because the school system had six snow days last year.

After the building is demolished, the site will be home to a new softball field, practice field and additional parking.

In order to tear down the old high school, Bernard said a number of different steps need to be taken before the building can officially be razed.

As part of the multi-step process, Bernard said moving equipment from the old high school to the Main Street corridor and the high school cafeteria was first. There are also some items being stored in the gymnasium. Bernard said a “massive amount” of equipment was moved as part of the process. Bernard said maneuvering some equipment such as Smart Boards was “complicated.”

“It had to be done carefully,” Bernard said of the move. “It took several days.”

In addition to the move, Bernard said contractors have also begun the asbestos abatement process and have been disconnecting utilities. He said contractors have been working on these two initiatives over the course of the summer.

Bernard said he currently anticipates the old high school will begin being demolished in early to mid August. He said he was no idea how long the process will take.

“The razing will initiate in early to mid August and will continue in the subsequent weeks,” said Bernard. “We are on the schedule we hoped to be on, which is a good thing.”

The razing of the old high school will officially mark the end of an era in the town’s history. The old NRHS opened its doors in 1958 and many students made lasting memories at the old high school over the years.

Whether it was aspiring baseball players fine tuning their skills by using the batting cages located under the high school or Masquers productions taking place in the old Daniel Shay Auditorium, many students made many happy memories. There are even people who fell in love at the old NRHS.

Bernard, who served as high school principal for 11 years before being tapped as superintendent of schools, said the old NRHS will always have a special place in his heart.

“That school served us well,” said Bernard. “A lot of people made a lot of good memories in the old high school. We had a lot of successful athletic teams who played there and we put on some great plays and concerts in the auditorium. It’s a new era in education and we were limited to going to the next level because of the building’s limitations but it certainly served us well.”

Bernard also noted the old high school was well maintained right up until the end, which is why it lasted as long as it did compared to area high schools. As an example, the old North Andover High School, which was poorly designed and maintained, was built in the 1970s and was razed in 2004 after a new school was built.

“Our buildings have always been well maintained, which is important to take note of,” said Bernard.