New wing overwhelms community at open house

School board members Peter Bakker, Michael Kearney and Amy O’Brien, principal Jon Clark, student body president Dana Sell, superintendent Sarah Riss, Shrewsbury mayor Felicity Buckley and school board member Steven Loher are all smiles after the ribbon cutting on Aug. 23, where the school district and community came together to celebrate the opening of the new $22 million North Wing (photo by Kevin Killeen).

Kevin Killeen


Junior Sam Short swung open the heavy sound proof door of the brand new $4,200 practice room, picked up his old chipped drum sticks and began practicing exercise 38 of his “Syncopation for the Modern Drummer” practice book.

Short is just one of hundreds of student benefiting from the newly constructed $22 million north wing, which was finished just in time for the 2012 – 2013 school year.

“For me it’s a dream come true,” said principal Jon Clark. “This has been one of the most exciting moments of my 17 years here at Webster.”

The new annex was commemorated with a ribbon cutting, on Aug. 23, where about 1,300 students, administration and community members were able to explore and admire its state of the art facilities. The music, art, industrial technology, science, social studies and special school district were among the departments that benefited from the new facilities.

On the third floor are 10 new science labs, two special school district labs, and an open courtyard that offers sunlight for many classrooms and growing vegetation for scientific analyzation. With the construction, the school district also renovated two science class rooms that haven’t been renovated since the 1920s.

“It makes it easier for a good staff to better meet the needs of students,” said science department chair Margaret Skouby.”

The second floor primarily hosts the socials studies department, with 15 new classrooms, two technology enhanced classrooms, two special school district classrooms, a therapeutic classroom and an updated Statesmen center for alternative education.

“It’s provided a freshness for students and teachers alike,” said social studies department chair Tim Cashel. “Never before has the social studies department been together. We used to be spread out by floors and building. The closer proximity and the classrooms create greater collaboration between department members.”

The first floor houses three big rehearsal rooms where orchestra, band and choir can rehearse in full. It also includes 10 sound conditioned practice rooms – two with virtual acoustic environments and recording equipment. There are also ceramics, visual arts, photography and graphic art classrooms and a dark room to process photos.

“It’s the best academic/music facilities I’ve seen all around the country,” said music teacher Kevin Cole.

The lower level houses the industrial arts, with a renovated wood shop, a technology lab suited for a robotics class, and an updated auto shop with a paint booth, welding booths and a freight/car lift.
On top of the $22 million used from Prop W to help pay for construction, a group of alumni and community donators have set a goal to raise $300,000 to help pay for up-to-date learning equipment in the new addition.

“We have some of the top students in the state, and they deserve the top facilities,” said Clark.

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