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Littleton celebrates new middle school, career center

October 27, 2011
LITTLETON — After a month and a half of allowing its students to settle into their new digs, the Daisy Bronson Middle School and Hugh J. Gallen Career and Technical Center (CTC) opened its doors to the public last Thursday to celebrate the recent completion of a $10.8 million four-floor addition and renovation project.

The community that helped fund and support the combined CTC/middle school addition to the high school was honored and thanked during a ribbon cutting ceremony in the gymnasium before tours of the new facility were given.

"There's no way I could mention everyone who has been involved in this," said school district Superintendent Tommy Stephens. "We're very grateful to everyone in the community who has played a big part in bringing this facility to fruition."

Other speakers included School Board Chairwoman Ann Wiggett, board Vice Chairman Rodney Edwards, building committee Chairman Stan Fillion, Vice Principal Linda Leavitt and CTC director and assistant superintendent Alan Smith.

Leavitt said there were many advantages to the new middle school, and she polled teachers and eighth graders on what was most important to them.

Top on the list is that it now meets all fire codes and handicap accessibility needs — Wigget said the old school had been in noncompliance with many rules for many years. However, the students and teachers also appreciate the natural light provided by all of the windows, more space to move around in, the convenience of not having to walk across the street to the high school for certain services and for it being more student-friendly in general.

By far the biggest part of the project was the new CTC facility, which will assist its programs, which include health science, business, computer technology, early childhood development, automotive works, building trade and TV broadcasting.

Each program has a classroom and a lab component. The early childhood development lab is actually a preschool for community children ages 3 to 5. It now has expanded space, a climbing wall and even a place outdoors for a garden, while the building trade's lab allows the students to build modular homes indoors, which will then be sold and moved to a location.

The health science lab component simulates a hospital with interactive mannequins that can have an IV put in, their heart and lungs listened to and be subjected to defibrillation. One mannequin can even simulate giving birth and be programmed to develop complications that could come up in a number of scenarios.

"We're just so lucky to have this," said Brianna Hartford, a student who added that the facility was a great start for teens planning to go into a health major.

Clerk of the Works George Brodeur, who led one of the tours, said the automotive shop alone was "at least five times bigger than what they had and a lot safer."

He said the project had a number of surprises including asbestos under the floor of the now-expanded library and more found in the old career center, which was built in the early 1980s and shouldn't have had the material in it to begin with. Brodeur said total asbestos abatement cost about $800,000.

Much of the project was covered by state and federal funds, with the community having to chip in $2.2 million dollars or about 21.5 cents for every dollar spent, said Brodeur.

He added that there are a few "punch-list" items that need to be wrapped up — such as some minor electrical work and the new broadcasting lab won't be up and running until the second semester — but for all appearances the project is just about complete and the students are more than happy with their new facility

The old Daisy Bronson Middle School's future is up in the air.

Wiggett said this past Monday that the building's gym will likely still be used, while the upper floors will be partially sealed off to save on heat costs. She also said that money has been set aside for renovations, but the board has not yet firmed up anything.

Possible uses could include moving the SAU offices to that building or using it for Littleton Academy students.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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