North Adams Transcript
CHESHIRE -- A new year started with a virtually new building for Hoosac Valley Middle & High School’s first day in operation Friday.
The day served as something of an orientation for students and staff.
The 40-year old building, improved by a $40 million renovation job throughout last year, wowed students with its modern design and new technology -- from computer and science labs down to the motion-activated water fountains.
Former principal and current assistant principal Henry Duval said the day consisted of assemblies and acquainting new and former students to the space.
"From any standpoint it was a successful first day," Duval said. "Even returning students -- the juniors and seniors -- had a brand new facility and a new layout to learn. Considering all that, it went very well. [Students were] impressed with the building."
Principal Vinnie Regan said Friday was full of new experiences all around, as students discovered the building’s new features, some for the first time, and he readjusted to the middle-high school age group, having been previously employed working with children in kindergarten through grade 2.
"Kids were engaged in every classroom," Regan said. "[The day] was better than I thought it could be."
Brook Kamienski, one of the district’s newest hires and the school’s second assistant principal, said everyone in the building was excited
"Kids came in wide-eyed and smiling," Kamienski said. "They were relieved [to return to the building]. All said it was a good day."
After school hours, Meghan DeLuca, a junior, was busy making a sign to support the football team with peers Hannah Stansfield, Kayla Racine, Emily Thurston and eighth-graders Marie Ellis and Jocelyn Andrews.
"Honestly, I think it’s going to be a better learning experience," DeLuca said. "Someone said the cafeteria looks like the one in [the movie] High School Musical."
Administrators hope the new school will be ground zero for a comprehensive educational reform effort that factors prominently in the district’s future plans.
Regan said September will mostly consist of learning the new building and its capabilities, while much of the heavy lifting pertaining to reform measures like Race to the Top and the implementation of educator evaluations should come into play by November.
"[We plan to] assess our needs, get together action plans and set goals, by collaboration and communication among staff, not top-down directives. Good companies and good schools build infrastructure."
Race to the Top, a federal initiative to incentivize states to improve K-12 education, was adopted by the commonwealth in 2009 and its guidelines shape much of the district’s goals and policies.
To reach Phil Demers, email