Long-awaited new digs boost excitement for Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School’s opening day

Last modified: Monday, September 08, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — When the new school year begins, the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School will officially open the doors of its new building at 1 Industrial Parkway in Easthampton.

“It’s thrilling to be here in the new school,” said Dan Klatz, the education coordinator. “There is a lot to do to get everything set up and running but we couldn’t be happier to be here.”

Since the school was established in 1995, it has been housed in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg which it shared with other tenants including a fitness center and a yoga studio.

The move to Easthampton comes after roughly 17 years of searching for a building that would better suit the needs of the school for students in kindergarten through Grade 8.

The new building has 24,268 square feet and sits on four acres which is leased to the school.

“This is a beautiful space and it is great to have a space that is just ours,” said Deirdre Arthen, the community coordinator.

The new school features two wings off a central entrance that separates younger students from older ones.

Large windows allow natural light to flow throughout the building, giving it a spacious and airy atmosphere.

Arthen said that the interior was freshly painted and improvements were made to the air quality system.

“A lot of the development had been done with a consciousness toward creating a healthy indoor environment,” Arthen said. “That is where a lot of our upgrades to the building have been.”

At the Brassworks building, an expanded area in a section of hallway open to foot traffic was used as an “all-school space” for gatherings and music classes.

“One of the biggest changes is that we can now have one room dedicated to music so that we don’t have to hold classes in an all-space area,” Arthen said.

The school now not only has a music room for teaching and storing instruments, it also has a large enclosed room that will be used as an all-space area for concerts, plays and other school gatherings.

Science and art classes will also have their own rooms.

One of the school’s biggest concerns in Williamsburg was that the building fit snugly between the Mill River and Route 9, leaving a small parking lot and a tiny side lawn as a play area.

“We have newly installed blacktop that will provide ample space for a basketball area as well as increased parking,” Arthen said. “There is also plenty of open space to put in a nice playground.”

A family lounge area is inside the front entrance near the school’s central offices.

“A few students have already come in with their parents to help set up. They do that every year, but this year it is especially exciting,” Arthen said.

In addition to the new building, there will be four new teachers at the school: Jessica Farwell, Grade 6 math and science; Kate Saccento, Grade 4 and 5; Kelly Malanson, special education; and Sadie Graham, physical education.