(Final part of a series.)
By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — The impressive new Galvin Middle School opened without any real hitches on Thursday, Sept. 4 to the excitement of students, parents, faculty and administrators. Everyone’s dream had been finally realized.
It was in 2010 that the idea of building a new middle school began to take root. Then Superintendent of Schools Joan Landers met with parents, town administrators, members of the School Committee, Permanent Building Committee and Massachusetts School Building Authority to start the ball rolling.
And on Saturday, Nov. 15 this year, a re-dedication ceremony was held to commemorate the opening of the new school. The only person who could not be there was PBC head John Encarnacao. Only two weeks before the event, Encarnacao passed away.
He was not forgotten, however, since the Administrative Suite at the new school now bears his name. Also memorialized were Dr. Paula Mullen, former principal of the middle school, and Mike Angelo, head custodian at the school. The athletic field was named for Mullen, while the school’s cafeteria was named for Angelo.
As the year progressed, work continued on the new school. In June, discussions were held about technology upgrades and in early July an ARS 500B road grinder was seen at work grinding up the parking lot.
About a week later, demolition work began on the old Galvin Middle School. Progress was being made. Soon, concrete work on walkways on the newest end of the building was underway. Conduits and electrical wiring were placed around the same time.
In early August, changes in traffic patterns were the topic at a public forum. The focus was on changing patterns on and around Armory Street. Meanwhile, crews working under Bond Bros., the construction company handling the $74.6 million project, continued to meet various deadlines.
It was finally decided to make Armory Street a one-way street and so far there have been few complaints about the change.
In late August, a Daily Item reporter took a tour of the new Galvin Middle School and was in awe of the engineering marvels and state-of-the-art classrooms.
The first day of school followed soon after, and a ceremony was held in the school’s athletic field before the first bell rang, with Principal Mark Bedrosian and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike offering remarks. A few minutes later, students in grades five through eight and their teachers walked through the brand-new doors for the first time.
On Saturday night, Nov. 15 the re-dedication ceremony was held in the school’s new Veterans Memorial Auditorium in honor of General John Rogers Galvin, for whom the school is named. State and town officials attended along with residents, parents, students and anyone else who had an interest in the school. Many accolades were given by Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio for individual and collective efforts that went into building the new school — beginning with John Encarnacao. Maio also mentioned the hard work of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the organization that funded 50 percent of the cost of the building; construction firm Bond Brothers; architectural firm Tappe Associates and project manager Joselin, Lesser & Associates. Maio also gave a hearty thanks to all those who had a hand in bringing the new school to life: Members of the Permanent Building Committee, Selectmen and Finance Committee Members, school administrators and faculty members and parents.
Rounding out the event was a musical performance given by the high school’s wind ensemble and chamber singers, under the direction of Ann Morel and Thomas Bankert.
A collation followed in the school’s cafeteria.
As 2015 unfolds, watch for news about two other schools in Wakefield up for major improvements, if not total reconstruction: Wakefield Memorial High School and the Greenwood School. Watch, also, for news concerning something parents of young children and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Zrike are hoping for — free full-day kindergarten.
While hard news stories in 2014 caused a lot of buzz around town, there were also “softer” news stories that got people talking — and thinking.
It was last March that Wakefield-Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce Director Marianne Cohen’s daughter Shoshanna Cohen, age 12 at the time, made her Bat Mitzvah. This news, in and of itself, is not necessarily earth shattering but it’s what Shoshanna chose to do for the “mitzvah” portion in this significant event so dear to the hearts of those who practice the Jewish faith.
The Galvin Middle School student made it her goal to collect gently used iPods and iTunes gift cards so that each resident at Brooksby Village in Peabody would have his or her own music and play list. Among the people receiving these gifts was Roberta Seidman, Cohen’s own grandmother.
Shoshanna’s efforts were all part of the Music and Memory program at Brooksby, designed to bring joy into the lives of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, plus a wide range of cognitive and physical impairments. Cohen was the first to bring the program to Massachusetts and set up a 501(c)(3) charity to bring it about.
Once the corporate office overseeing Brooksby Village heard about Shoshanna’s program, it was implemented all over the country at their other facilities,” said Marianne Cohen. She and her husband had every good reason to be proud of their daughter and the Daily Item was happy to share the family’s good news.
There were other good things happening in and around town the Daily Item was happy to write about.
Former Wakefield resident Liz Norden and mother of JP Norden and Paul Norden, the brother who sustained severe injuries during the Boston Marathon Bombing, was chosen from 20,000 entries to be named winner of the “Unstoppable Mom” contest held by the “Live With Kelly and Michael” TV show aired mornings. For being an “unstoppable Mom,” Liz was presented a check for $100,000.
Now a Stoneham resident, Liz and all the members of her family also won a trip to DisneyWorld, compliments of the show and advertiser Children’s Motrin, sponsor of the contest.
Then there’s the story about neighbor helping neighbor over on Forrester Road. Last May, the Daily Item learned that resident Joseph (Joe) Silveira, 44 Forrester Rd. had quite a story to share.
It all began when Joe’s wife Suzanne, then 67, was hospitalized several times in 2013 following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
Suzanne’s illness was difficult enough to cope with, what with medical appointments, hospitalizations and treatments, never mind the couple’s struggle to keep nutritious meals on the table, the lawn mowed or, in winter, the car and driveway shoveled out.
But the people who live on Forrester Road are unique. They are all committed to the Golden Rule and decided to ease the Silveiras’ burdens. These folks now deserve a second round of applause: Sandra Gass, Shawn Gean, Chuck Geier, Maureen Howlett, Peter and Jen Rollins and Karen and Dan Taliaferro. And that’s the short list.
“People have shown their love and support in a lot of different ways,” said Joe. “Suzanne and I are so grateful.”
The love and support Silveira spoke of included the delivery of home-cooked meals, some of them gourmet; planting bark mulch in flower beds and shoveling out the couple’s car after a heavy snowfall. And to top it off, over Memorial Day two lobster rolls arrived at their doorstep, compliments of the Silveiras’ neighbors.
In August and in another part of town — Albion Street, specifically, laughter and tears were the order of the day when Steven Scarpa, a 2014 graduate of Wakefield Memorial High School, was honored by staff members at Century 21 Commonwealth Real Estate.
The young man was not a Realtor nor was he a broker leaving the company for greener pastures.
No, that was not the reason for the gathering. A few days later, Scarpa left for Parris Island, S.C., for three months of basic training in the U.S. Marines. His friends at Commonwealth all gathered in a first floor conference room — including his mentor and office manager for the company Rich Ferris. There was pizza and cold drinks, cards, balloons and a cake.
There was also a Power Point presentation showing photos of Scarpa and Ferris over the years — all to the tune of “Time to Say Goodbye.” A few sniffles could be heard throughout the room, a few tears wiped from eyes.
The parting was indeed bittersweet, since Scarpa and Ferris had enjoyed a father-son bond minus the biological tie for more than 10 years.
Acts of generosity and kindness are not limited to adults. One little girl, then age 6 and a student at the Woodville School, took kindness and caring to an extreme and in October was rewarded for her efforts.
Teagan Keon Sparhawk’s kindness was noticed by someone other than her teachers and classmates. She was named one of three winners of the Spreading Smiles Award in a contest sponsored by the Mary Jo Brown Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity that recognizes and awards children for their selfless acts.
Teagan was nominated for showing her selflessness by intervening on behalf of a little boy in her class who was being bullied. In addition, she joined her father in helping to provide foster care for dogs at their home until they can be adopted.
For her selflessness Teagan was presented a trophy and five hours of jump time at SkyZone in Boston. She was also given a basket of toys and treats to take home for the pets she is currently fostering. The two other children who were named winners this year are residents of Carver and Haverhill.
Bad news travels fast, but so does good news.
The good news is that people who gassed up their cars at Local Gas Station on North Avenue Tuesday night, Oct. 28, were given $10 gift cards.
The giveaway was all part of the mission of North Shore Random Acts of Kindness, a new social group of like-minded people who share the goal of giving back to surrounding communities. And the group’s mission is spreading.
On Tuesday, Oct. 28, Susan Collins, initiator of the Wakefield group, and her team of seven gathered at Local Gas Station on North Avenue to hand out the $10 gas cards.
The gas station is owned and operated by Nick Tsitsinos, and he was receptive to having the group use his station for their first gas card giveaway.
“The customers were all very excited to receive the cards,” said Collins. “Some were apprehensive at first but when we explained what we were doing — with big smiles on our faces — that all changed.”
Many people, said Collins, shared stories about random acts of kindness they had received themselves or provided for someone else.
“You could just feel their excitement,” she said. “It was rewarding to see so many happy faces and know we we were making a difference in our community.”
As the year now comes to a close, the Daily Item staff is looking forward to publishing photos and stories that interest everyone in town. If you have news or photos you would like to see in your hometown newspaper, give us a call at 781-245-0080 or e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] We are eager to hear from you.
No matter how insignificant your news might seem, it’s the nuts and bolts of community journalism. The story, as they say, is in the details, no matter how small.
Happy New Year!