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Spaulding Youth Center officials tout success during dedication of new school

Susan Calgeri, CEO and president of Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield, waves her hands to cheer along with students during a ceremony for the opening of their new school building on June 13, a day proclaimed as Spaulding Youth Center Dedication Day by Gov. John Lynch. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012
NORTHFIELD — "Rain or shine, this will be a glorious day for us," said Susan Calgeri, CEO and president of Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield during the "Success- A New School for Spaulding" dedication ceremonies last week.

Moments after she spoke those opening remarks, skies cleared, but Mother Nature still couldn't match the bright, sunny smiles of the SYC students who expressed their pride and joy at every opportunity.

"This is really more of a pep rally than some stuffy old dedication," Calgeri told the cheering boys and girls.

Calgeri then read a proclamation from Gov. John Lynch, declaring Wednesday, June 13, Spaulding Youth Center Dedication Day in honor of 140 years of dedication in serving "emotionally and intellectually challenged children." He further commended SYC for its commitment to the development of social, academic, vocational and independent living skills for those children, along with all the other good work they do at the center on a daily basis.

"Spaulding Youth Center deserves our thanks," he wrote.

The $4.8 million school project, more than two years in the making, was successfully completed in March, when the students were able to enjoy and benefit from the space, technology and creative learning environment designed by Andrea Moulton of Banwell Architects in Lebanon.

In a show of appreciation for the new building, students lined up before the crowd on hand with cards spelling out the phrase, "Our New School is Cool."

Chairman of the SYC Board of Trustees, James Clements, addressed the gathering to thank all who made a dream become a reality. Clements reflected on the many meanings of the word "dedication," and ultimately decided it meant to make the needs of others higher than one's own. He thanked the board for their personal dedication in getting the school built.

"They decided to build this building because it needed to be done. It was the right thing to do for Spaulding," Clements said.

He said the staff and students were equally dedicated to seeing the project's completion, and he was "wowed" by them all for how well they adjusted to the temporary inconveniences and changes they endured throughout construction.

"Your dedication is what brings the sun out today," Clements told them.

He said he himself is a slow walker, but he never walks backward.

"Today, we walk forward through the dedication and success you have made possible," he added.

Mike Ventura and Hailey Dearborn, who co-chaired the Capital Campaign for the building, announced that $2,623,940 had been raised so far for the new school, but in her speech afterward, Calgeri informed them that amount would need to be adjusted.

"I just received a check here today for $10,000 from a gentleman who had promised the money long ago, and told me he was a man of his word," she said.

Calgeri also thanked board members, trustees, independent donors and all who lent their support to the project. She said the new building is a beautiful gateway to Spaulding's grounds and facilities and will be a place of wonder, a place of success, for years to come.

The students, she added, made all who worked toward the goal of a new educational building feel honored to do so on their behalf and honored to be a part of their lives.

"This," Calgeri said, gesturing to the students in the crowd, "is what success looks like. Let's have some ice cream!"

Tours of the facility were conducted by students, the architects and construction manager Jeff Downing of Conneston Construction, Inc. in Laconia.

Ten new classrooms, furnished with the latest in educational technology, a spacious media center, Life Skills room, therapy centers and conference rooms are all included in the building. There is also a central "Town Hall" for group gatherings, embellished with a compass on the floor, pointing out the many directions their lives can lead them.

A little piece of the grounds was even incorporated into the new structure when boards were hewn from trees on the property to build the front reception desk.

On hand to celebrate the future of special education at SYC were staff, students, trustees, board members, representatives of the Tilton and Northfield fire and police departments, Franklin Savings Bank, which funded the project, and the many community supporters of the school and its foundation.

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