Three years, $197 million later: Newton North opens doors

By Hye-Jung Yang
Published: June 2010

After almost three years of construction, the new building for Newton North is nearly complete.

In January of 2007, when the plan to rebuild the school on a different site was still in its early stages, Newton residents voted to use taxpayer money from South to help pay for the cost of reconstruction at $197.5 million, an amount which made the new building the most expensive school ever to be built in Massachusetts.

Now, more than three years later, the project is in its final stages and­­­ the new building is close to completion.

On June 1, Turner Construction turned over ownership of the building to the city of Newton, making any non-design-related damages the city’s responsibility.

The old building is scheduled to be demolished next March at an estimated cost of around $10 million, which will be funded for the most part by taxpayers’ money, as well as by savings.

According to Chief Operating Officer Bob Rooney, the building will be fully demolished and the site will be cleaned out by the end of July.

At the moment, however, North administrators are working on selling and auctioning off old, unusable materials that will not be transferred to the new school. A yard sale on June 5 sold items such as records and old sports equipment to raise money for the city’s general fund.

Called the “Great North Yard Sale, it was part of North’s Bringing Down the House, a three-day event meant to celebrate “student and community life at Newton North High School before the building closes its doors for the last time, according to the North PTSO website.

The celebration, which took place June 4-6, involved a commemoration of the theatre program, Theatre Ink, as well as an Open House exhibition and the closing of a time capsule.

Current students, alumni, faculty, and parents of current and former students all attended the celebration, reflecting on their experiences with North and how their lives would change as a result of the new school.

Alumnus David A. Ford, who attended North from 1983-1986, is among those who are sad to see the old building be torn down.

“I have a lot of memories of being in the building, he said. “I also have memories of running around the track field. I always loved to drive by here and I’m really going to miss seeing the old building.

Senior Louis Loftus, who will not be attending the new school this fall, is also sad to see the building go.

Younger students, on the other hand, seem to be more excited about the switch.

“I’m definitely going to miss all the theatre, and Main Street, freshman Caroline Loftus said. “But I’m still very excited about a new school, to start new memories.

Sophomore Emily Schacter agrees.

“I’m sad, but really excited, she said.

Despite differing opinions on the change to the new building, however, all current and former students, faculty, and parents have one thing in common: an appreciation for the strong academics, extracurricular offerings, and sense of community at North.

Parent Didier Putzeys, who has seen his four children graduate from North over the course of 10 years, most appreciates the diversity at North.

“[My favorite part] is the broad set of offerings, academic and social and cultural, he said. “[Students] are exposed to a variety of people, of cultures, of knowledge.

Interim superintendent Jim Marini, who attended North as a student from 1960-1963 and returned as a principal from 1990-1999, firmly believes that North is, and has always been, a place where students are nurtured and challenged and the community brings out the best in people.

“It’s a place where students can find their center, identify who they are as individuals¦ and are ready and prepared to move on to the bigger challenges beyond the school, Marini said. “It is a fabulous place where people are respected for who they are, included, and made to feel important.

Even with the change of location, Marini believes that the strong sense of community within the school will remain the same.

“What has not changed at North is the culture of the school¦ it is a place where the culture transcends time, individual people, and societal changes, he said. “This culture is permanent.

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