Published in the September 3, 2015 edition

WELCOME TO THE MIDDLE SCHOOL. Sixth grade social studies teacher Karen Caruso unpacks boxes in her new classroom. The new North Reading Middle School welcomes students on Sept. 9.  (Bob Turosz Photo)

WELCOME TO THE MIDDLE SCHOOL. Sixth grade social studies teacher Karen Caruso unpacks boxes in her new classroom. The new North Reading Middle School welcomes students on Sept. 9.
(Bob Turosz Photo)


NORTH READING — North Reading students in grades 1 through 12 will return to school for classes on Wednesday, Sept. 9 next week, and while that’s somewhat later than some surrounding towns, every day has been put to use in making the new middle school and grounds ready to welcome back students and teachers.

Grades one through 12 will report back to classes on Sept. 9. Preschool and kindergarten students and their parents will have their orientation sessions on Sept. 9 and 10. The first day for pre–kindergarten and kindergarten students will be Friday, Sept. 1. And ahead lies 180 days that should be educationally challenging and rewarding for all.

Last year’s big news was the opening of the new North Reading High School. This year, the headline will be the opening of the new North Reading Middle School, the completion of a multi–year, $123 million project that officially began with a groundbreaking in 2012, but is really the culmination of more than 10 years of work by the Secondary Schools Building Committee, dedicated citizens and town officials.

Technically, the new middle school is dubbed a renovation effort, but in reality it’s a whole new school because when the wrecking crews finished only five walls were left standing from the original building. Certainly students and parents returning to the middle school (after a one year temporary stay in the old high school building) won’t be able to find any similarities between the old, 50–year–old building and the new structure. In addition to the updated, modern classrooms, the new school has state–of–the–art science and art rooms and shares core facilities such as the library/media center, gymnasium, performing arts center and central kitchen.

The middle school received its occupancy permit on Tuesday, Aug. 25. An open house for students and their parents in grades six through eight took place on Sept. 2. And there will be an official dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Those venturing into the high school for the first time since the end of June will notice the new street signs have been installed in the main corridors, hopefully making it easier for visitors to find their way around the school. With names like Main, North and Central Sts., the new signs, a gift of the Class of 2015, should make it possible for parents to unplug the GPS while circling the atrium looking for a room that doesn’t seem to exist.

Both the high and middle schools will have new traffic patterns this year. Diagrams showing the new traffic patterns for both schools have been published in the Transcript and are available on the middle and high school websites.

All middle school students must be dropped off and pick up at the Middle School entrance at the front of the building during drop off and pickup and during school hours. All bus traffic will be on the main entrance side of the Middle School. Parents should not access the campus from Sherman Rd. at any time.

At the high school, all traffic into and out of the building should be via the main access road off Park St. only. Drop off and pick up at the bus loop is via Oakdale and Sherman Rds. for school buses only. All faculty, staff and district personnel parking is in the large rear parking lot behind the school.

There are 21 new teachers joining the public schools this year to fill vacancies created created by new positions, retirements and resignations.

The high school leads the parade with 10 new faces: Ashley Bolognese, guidance counselor; Marcella Fox, special education; Andrea Barlow, IEP team chairperson; Jeff Lane, physics, STEM; Michael Heppner, English; Justin Lacasse, phys ed; Laura Babcock, English; Andrea Gagnon, mathematics; Matt DiVecchia, business education and Susan Mavrinac, speech pathologist.

New at the Middle School are Laura Walton, library media specialist; Susan Musacchio, technology/robotics; Andrea Barlow, IEP team chairperson.

Nine new faces will be sprinkled among the three elementary schools: Sam Anthony, digital learning specialist; Coleen Reska, Batchelder School nurse; Christine Lindsay, digital learning specialist; Jenna Cerat, Little School speech language pathologist; Nicole Martin, Little School speech language pathologist; Heather Blackmun, Hood School special education; Nicole DiSpena, Little School nurse; Jenna Comeau, Hood School music and Phil Nackley, Little School phys ed.

School hours

These are the school hours for the town’s three elementary schools and two secondary schools for the 2015–16 school year. The Little and Hood Schools will be the “early” elementary school and the Batchelder School will be the “late” school.

• High School: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Early release at 11 a.m.

• Middle School: 7:55 a.m. to 2:21 p.m. Early release at 11;21 a.m.

• Batchelder School: 8:55 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. Early release at 12:10 p.m.

• Hood School: 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Early release at 11:45 a.m.

• Little School: 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Early release at 11:45 a.m.

• Pre–K (Little School): AM: 8:15 to 11:15. PM: 12 noon to 3 p.m.

• Kindergarten (Batchelder): AM: 8:55 to 11:35. PM: 12:35 to 3:10

• Kindergarten (Hood): AM: 8:30 to 11:10. PM: 12:10 to 2:45

• Kindergarten (Little): AM: 8:30 to 11:10. PM: 12:10 to 2:45.

Elementary school end of trimester: Nov. 25, March 4, June 28.

Secondary end of quarter: Nov. 6, Jan. 22, April 1, June 28.

Although the focus has been on the secondary schools project for the last two years, the elementary schools came in for some TLC over the summer too, with fresh coats of paint and the Hood School has had much of the asphalt area surrounding the school and playground resurfaced as part of a two–year paving program that will continue next year.

Email address changes

The email domain for the faculty and staff at the North Reading schools has recently changed to, which is a lot simpler and cleaner than the old email domain. The old domain will continue to work for a short period of time but families should update now to the new

Coming in September

The annual High School Back to School Night will be Sept. 21 and Parents’ Night at the elementary schools will be Sept. 24. The Middle School Back to School night for grades 6–8 will be Oct. 1.

School transportation

Parents new to the district are reminded the North Reading Public Schools have a bus user fee. A discount was applied to passes purchased before Aug. 17. Payments received after Aug. 17 will be $350 for a bus pass with a family maximum of $550. One can pay by check or money order. Payments can also be made via credit card online. The online payment link can be found on the district website.

See the “School Busing FAQs” in today’s Back to School supplement for a complete introduction to the school busing system as well as the school bus stops for all five schools. Also, don’t miss Superintendent Jon Bernard’s “Around the School Yard” column on page four of today’s paper, full of more information about the coming year.