It was a new year at the Clark Avenue Middle School Wednesday morning, Aug. 29.
But it wasn’t just any new year.
It was the year that students poured through a brand new front door to the clean, sparkling hallways of a brand new $54 million school building with all of the most modern amenities that their old school – the former 110-year-old Chelsea High School – couldn’t provide.
“I really want to see the new gym; I can’t wait,” said William Bay, a 7th grader, as he waited outside his new school Wednesday morning. “I guess I just want to see all of the school. I’m excited about the whole thing. I think it will help me do better in school. I’m going to learn more here.”
For parents, the excitement was just as frenzied.
“I’m so excited,” said Bernice Reyes, who brought her two sixth graders for their first day. “I have a college graduate who went to the old Clark Ave. I remember that school. It couldn’t give these kids what this one will.”
Said Sara El-Mahil, a returning student, “It’s better than the old one for sure. The classroom are larger and all the water fountains will work now. I really like the space in the front where kids can hang out before school. Everything is going to be more organized.”
The Clark Ave began several years ago, with Phase 1 concluding in December 2016 and kids being welcomed into the new classroom portion along Tudor Street. This year, however, the entire school was opened to students – revealing a new gym, new music rooms, the library and numerous other amenities that completed the project.
“It’s a fantastic building,” said Principal Michael Talbot. “The kids are going to love it. The teachers are going to love the new options that this building gives them to teach the kids. Everyone’s excited.”
Supt. Mary Bourque and other district officials, including Gerry McCue – who shepherded the project through before retiring this year, were on hand to welcome students and parents.
“I am so proud of what the City has done here with this facility,” she said. “This was the right thing to do for the kids and the community.”
One of the most appreciated things on Wednesday morning for the students, parents and staff was the new, sprawling courtyard and outdoor amphitheatre at the corner of Tudor Street and Clark Avenue. The new space is still under construction, but was finished to the extent that it offered a great place to gather before school.
Previously, the school hugged the sidewalk, and there was little to no space for gathering.
The new outdoors space will support learning at the school, and will also be available for the community to use for things such as outdoor plays or movies.
Williams School sewer problems
The Williams School – home of the Browne Middle and Wright Middle Schools – experienced a heart-attack moment on Monday afternoon when a major sewer blockage threatened opening day.
Around 3 p.m. on Monday, the sewer backed up and caused a major problem in the school. All of the teachers getting prepared for the school year in the building were sent home.
Joe Cooney and his team at the Buildings and Grounds Department went to work on the problem and soon found that there was a huge cluster of baby wipes clogging the sewer pipe and drains.
“Joe’s team worked throughout the night washing and sanitizing everything and we were ready to be back in business Tuesday morning,” said Supt. Mary Bourque. “I am truly the luckiest and most grateful Superintendent for our dedicated and hard-working Buildings and Grounds department.”