Celebrating ‘a shared vision’: Officials mark formal opening of Easthampton’s Mountain View School

  • Allison LeClair, the Easthampton Superintendent of schools, during the ribbon cutting of Mountain View School. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison LeClair, the Easthampton Superintendent of schools, speaks at the opening celebration of Mountain View School. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison LeClair, the Easthampton Superintendent of schools, hands out gifts of a book called If I Built A School to Cynthia Kwieeinski and other members of the School Committee during the opening celebration of the Mountain View School. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mountain View School elementary entrance in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Daniel Carey, the State Representative, speaks at the opening celebration of Mountain View School in Easthampton Tuesday morning, September 5, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison LeClair, the Easthampton Superintendent of schools, speaks at the opening celebration of Mountain View School. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lindsay McCloud-Clark, back left, a preschool teacher at Mountain View School, and preschool para-educators Carrie Baker and Allyson Bowler get ready for the first day of preschool Tuesday at Mountain View School in Easthampton. “This room is so nice, there is lots of space and light with more room for them to walk around and learn to be independent,” McCloud-Clark said. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/6/2022 8:46:16 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Dignitaries and school officials swelled the crowd gathering Tuesday morning to celebrate Mountain View School, a $109 million project more than 12 years in the making.

More than 100 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was held in the building’s middle school cafeteria.

“We’re here this morning to celebrate the completion and the opening of this beautiful new school and to recognize the efforts of so many that have been critical to the success of this project,” said Tom Brown, chairman of the city’s Building Committee.

Despite challenges with increased material costs and supply chain shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 176,155-square-foot building was opened “on time and on budget,” according to Brown.

“We didn’t have a groundbreaking. We didn’t have a topping-off ceremony and we didn’t have an opening ceremony when students started in January. What we did have was winter and a pandemic,” he said.

Construction on the K-8 school building project — which consolidates city’s three former elementary schools, Maple, Center and Pepin, and White Brook Middle School — began in January 2020.

“The first statement of interest for the project was filed with the Massachusetts Building Authority in 2010, and was resubmitted and rejected every year until a pre-K-8 project was submitted and accepted until 2014,” said Superintendent Allison LeClair. “There are a lot of people who have been very tenacious about getting a new school in Easthampton.”

Students in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades have been attending school in the new building since January. Sept. 1 was the first day in the new building for elementary school students as the wings of the building that housed their classrooms were still under construction during the last school year.

With the consolidation of the new schools, Mountain View School will now have multiple principals in one building. Judy Averill is the principal for preschool through second grade; Andrea McCallum is the principal for third, fourth and fifth grades; and Meredith Balise is the principal for sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

Jill Pasquini-Torchia is now the head of the entire school.

“As the sights and sounds of construction finally begin to fade, it’s a perfect time to take a moment and reflect on everything that’s been accomplished here, the end result made possible by commitment, hard work and passion of so many,” said Pasquini-Torchia. “Mountain View School represents a shared vision in which our schools are the heartbeat of our community, where all are accepted and able to authentically participate in learning in a site that is welcoming, inclusive and adaptive to the needs of all students. This vision includes providing children in our community an incredible opportunity to learn in a clean, modern and thoughtfully designed facility.”

A total of 78 subcontractors and just under 1,000 crew members worked together to construct the new school building, according to Bertram “Bert” W. Gardner IV, project architect from Chicopee-based Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc.

Additionally, approximately 33,000 cubic yards of concrete, 110 tons of reinforcing steel, and roughly 1,220 tons of structural steel were used in the construction of the building.

Other guest speakers included School Committee Chairwoman Cynthia Kwiecinski, state Rep. Dan Carey, D-Easthampton, and Jack McCarthy, deputy chief executive officer and executive director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Eighth-grade student Katie Winsor sang the national anthem at the event.

During Carey’s remarks, he said as a 2003 graduate of Easthampton High School, a former paraprofessional of White Brook Middle School, former member of the City Council, former member of the School Committee and former member of the School Building Committee, he knows personally how important education is to the community.

“If you want to know what a person values, look at how they spend their time, look at how they spend their money,” he said. “If you want to know what the people of Easthampton value, look at how they spent their time over the last decade. Look at how they spent their money on this beautiful building. Look at the care they have for our students in our community. Thanks for the hard work.”

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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