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Profile community celebrates completed school

Over 200 people attend ribbon cutting

September 30, 2009
BETHLEHEM—Several hundred people turned out last Thursday to celebrate the long and turbulent road to get a new Profile School.

Though the new portions of the building have been partially occupied since last year and completely occupied since February, that didn't dampen the spirit of enthusiasm for those celebrating the event, which culminated in a ribbon cutting by six Profile students representing each grade in the school. Each student cut a tiny part of the ribbon with the final strand cut by 7th grader Luke Massei.

Principal Mike Kelley led the festivities, introducing the guest speakers and reflecting on what it took to build the school. Before becoming principal last year he served for eight years as Profile's assistant principal.

"You've all heard the cliché that it takes a village," Kelley said. "In this case it was true as these four towns came together and in the process captured the culture of four towns in this building."

Students from the towns of Bethlehem, Easton, Franconia and Sugar Hill in grades seven through 12 attend the school.

Kelley related an early sticky note exercise, during which residents put on sticky notes what they believed were the essentials to any new school. He said it was amazing how much of what they wanted they were able to achieve.

Bob Patterson, the former Building Committee Chairman and former SAU 35 interim superintendent reflected on the long hours the committee put in with the architects and contractors to lay out exactly what they wanted in a new school.

"It's amazing how cohesive a group we had. And the fact that we came in on time and under budget is noteworthy in itself," Patterson said. "We did it and we have a wonderful school and we are very, very proud of our work."

Patterson said the committee's goal had been absolute transparency, figuring voters would be more likely to support them if they were honest about any problems they had.

Before the $13 million school bond was finally approved by one vote, in a meeting of all the voters of the district in the gym of the old school in November 2006, the committee met every week for three or four hours at a stretch. In a previous vote a proposed school was rejected by voters as too expensive and the school had to be given emergency approval by the Department of Education to stay open.

Current school board Chair Jim Colongeli echoed Patterson in thanking all those whose work made the school possible. He said many people have stopped him since the building was approved by voters. Those people hoped the board and district would challenge residents and students to continue into the future with the same positive spirit that got the building built.

After the celebration, architect Chris Drobat, of Lavallee Brensinger, of Manchester, said the building committee was one of the best he had ever worked with.

"It was a total team effort and it took a lot of discipline for them to stick with this," Drobat said.

Before the celebration, Jim Payette a former school board and member of the building committee from Bethlehem, reflected on what he estimated were thousands of hours he put into the committee. The committee still meets weekly, he noted, going over final items on the checklist of projects the contractors must complete before the job is considered finished. The final meeting should be soon, however, he noted.

"There's some relief it's over but I was proud to be a part of it," Payette said.

"We did it for the kids."

Martin Lord Osman
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