October 2, 2019
Thank you. I know many of us have waited a long time for this day, so I’m excited to begin.
On behalf of our entire student body, it is my honor and privilege to welcome you, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members, to our new school. Standing in these halls you can probably feel the hard work going on in this building right now--- the teacher on the third floor looking to tame a wild class of seventh graders, the biology students cramming in the final minutes before their exam, and the guidance counselors preparing seniors for life beyond Mount Greylock. I also hope you took a moment to appreciate the building itself as you walked in; the curve that undisputedly provides the county’s best view of Mount Greylock, the foyer and wide hallways with space outside of the classroom for students to learn, even the auditorium you’re sitting in now, and whether it's your first or your hundredth time stepping inside, I hope you are experiencing the awe and pride we feel every day. And, bonus for you, you can have that feeling without taking the history test I have coming up.
We collectively watched this structure rise from the ground-- witnessing the concrete foundation take its form, the beams that came to hint at the outline of a building, and the layers of bricks that grew little by little. Each day, my bus passed this promise taking shape, as I entered our old school building. A building which, privileged as we were to have, was filled with leaking pipes, crumbling walls, and plagued by a failing ventilation system. A building that was not representative of the work done by teachers and students on the inside. A building where my peers couldn’t focus on tests over the grumble of the heater. A building where students had little space to gather between classes. As much as I know Principal MacDonald enjoyed skating down the hallways on humid days, it certainly wasn’t the most conducive environment for learning the kinematic equations, even if it was helpful for learning about friction.
I first got to see the interior of the school on a tour with Principal MacDonald. The dark, old cafeteria gave way to one with clear and efficient windows providing an abundance of light; our dismal entryway was replaced with a beautiful wood backdrop in the foyer, and flexible learning spaces have substituted the random spots where students would attempt to study. After weathering the storm of transition, missing locker rooms and closed auditoriums, our athletes have locker rooms and a gym that live up to the quality of our teams, our actors have a stage to perform from, and our musicians have practice rooms to get in some early notes. Perhaps most inspiring about the new school though is what it has less of--- less pollution and a reduced carbon footprint. We now have electric car chargers, a low-impact meadow that will help us achieve LEED certification, and a building that is 50% more efficient than its predecessor, the very minimal this community should be doing to address the climate crisis --but an important start we hope will inspire other schools and building projects.
As we enjoy the countless benefits of our new school, it's important to remember those who made it happen, many of whom are with us today. From the School Committee members, administrators, and parents who worked with the state to secure funding to the families from across the district who lobbied for the school in their own communities--thank you. Thank you to the students who dodged falling ceiling tiles to continue their studies. Thank you to the teachers whose voices rose above the clanking of the heating system. Thank you to everyone who gave input in the design and planning process, even to whoever made the staircases so very, very small, and thank you to the architects and construction workers who made this promise a reality. Thank you to every resident who voted in favor of the new school, and every taxpayer who bears the cost. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes three communities to raise a school.
And perhaps in this, we see the true value of a new school. While a 64 million dollar building can provide a space for students and teachers to learn unhindered, it can not teach. It might provide the physical safety a student needs to learn, but it cannot create the social support we need to thrive. A new school can have smartboards, wireless printers and personal laptops, but it cannot inspire a love of learning. Mount Greylock Regional School has been and will always be an exemplary school, not for its building but for the people inside the building. Our custodial staff who keep the school in pristine condition, our cafeteria staff who keep us fed, our administration who set and maintain the school’s standard. And above all---its teachers. I know my peers are glad to have shinier floors and clearer windows, but today we celebrate the fact that we finally have a building that reflects this greatness.