| Ryan Feyre
EASTHAMPTON – An official ribbon cutting was conducted on Sept. 6 to welcome students and staff to Mountain View, the city’s new school that houses pre-K-8 students and staff.
Fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders have been attending the new school since January, but Sept. 1 marked the first day for elementary school students, since the wings of the building that housed their classrooms were still under construction throughout the last school year.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted in the middle school café and featured school and city officials, as well as key community members.
“We’re here this morning to celebrate the completion and opening of this beautiful new school and to recognize the efforts to so many that have been critical to the success of this project,” said Tom Brown, chair of the city’s School Building Committee.
Mountain View School consolidates students and staff from the three former elementary schools – Center, Pepin and Maple – as well as the White Brook Middle School. Construction of the new pre-K-8 school began in January 2020.
“It took everyone in this group; everyone in this room, everyone in this city, to pull off this project; this beautiful new school that you see for our city today,” said Brown.
The consolidation of the new school means that multiple principals helm the Mountain View building. Jill
Pasquini-Torchia is the head of the entire school; Judy Averill is the principal for preschool through second grade; Andrea McCallum is the principal for third, fourth and fifth grades; and Meredith Balise takes the principal role for sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” School Committee Chairwoman Cynthia Kwiecinski said during the ceremony. “And that is exactly what the city of Easthampton did when they voted for this school.”
The $109 million project was crucial to embark on since the other schools were aging. According to Easthampton Superintendent Allison LeClair, the very first statement of interest for a new school building was filed with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in 2010. The statement was resubmitted and rejected every year until a K-8 project was accepted in 2014. LeClair added that discussions for a news school even began as far back as the late-1990s.
“It’s a perfect time to take a moment and reflect on everything that has 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 setting that is welcoming, inclusive, and adaptive to the needs of all students.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included state Rep. Dan Carey and Jack McCarthy, the deputy chief executive officer and executive director of the Massachusetts School Buliding Authority. Carey said that he graduated from Easthampton High School in 2003 and was a former paraprofessional for White Brook Middle School. He also added that he served on the School Committee, School Building Committee and City Council for Easthampton.
“We know that education is the bedrock of the community,” said Carey. “We know how important education is to the people of Easthampton because there were so many people on those committees; there were so many people that went out and voted; there were so many people…helping us pay for this great building.”