New middle-high school in Southbridge opens
McCarthy: Moore calls almost daily to advance local projects
By Brian Lee
September 27, 2012 ... At the podium of an auditorium that will usher in decades of aspiring performing artists, Massachusetts School Building Authority Executive Director Jack McCarthy asked the audience what it thought of the spanking new $73.2 million middle-high school on Torrey Road. The state agency picked up 80 percent of the tab.
Thunderous applause ensued.
The 200,000-square-foot school serves 1,050 students in Grades 6 through 12. The state is contributing more than $48 million.
During last night's ribbon-cutting, Mr. McCarthy said visiting the finished product is one of the fun parts of his job.
“This project is what happens when government works the way it's supposed to,” he said.
Turning to the students, Mr. McCarthy said his agency and Southbridge residents invested in their education.
“We believe in you. We believe that you're worthy of a beautiful 21st-century learning environment.”
Mr. McCarthy also praised local legislators.
State Rep. Peter J. Durant, R-Spencer, downplayed his role in pushing the project during his abbreviated first term, which began in May 2011, but Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Durant made his interest known to the state.
Mr. McCarthy said state Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, may have the most school construction projects of any senator, knows the status of each project and “calls almost daily to tell me what I'm not doing for him.”
Under the state's new school building program, this was the first that built a combined middle/high school. Mr. McCarthy said it was perfect the way it was divided, adding, “It's only right you're the Pioneers,” the school mascot.
The new multi-story building has two wings on either side of the auditorium and media center. It has a new cafetria, a modern gym and weight room, and five playing fields.
Town Council Chairman Catherine E. Nikolla, also a local school building committee member, said the project spanned generations and was pushed by some people who are no longer here.
With a crumbling middle and high school on her hands, former Superintendent Dale M. Hanley pushed the combined concept, Ms. Nikolla said.
Superintendent Eric D. Ely never missed a beat when he entered the job two years ago, she said.
School Committee member Scott S. Lazo, who chaired the school building committee, called it a time of celebration, pride and teamwork.
Mr. Lazo said that when he was appointed chairman of the school building committee 10 years ago by then-town manager Michael Coughlin, residents told him he was wasting his time.
“As a former alumni of Southbridge schools I said here's a challenge I'm going to enjoy,” Mr. Lazo said.
Town Manager Christopher Clark said the state did a good job retooling the project and agency to make it so it would be more responsive; the state paid the vendors as the project proceeded, so it didn't have to rely on debt service.
Originally slated to open to students in January, the school opened to students on Sept. 4. The project was $5 million under budget, officials said.
Representatives of project manager Joslin Lesser and Associates, Tappe Associates, which did the feasibility study, and Consigli Construction were also thanked.
This article appears courtesy of the Telegram & Gazette.
|Senator Moore's Remarks|