CHESHIRE -- The Hoosac Valley Middle & High School academic year got its symbolic start Friday with a scissor-snip and a thunderous applause as two red and white ribbon-ends fell to the school's gymnasium's glossy new floor.
Hundreds gathered in recognition of the year-long, $40 million dollar renovation of the 40-year-old building -- students, teachers, administrators and the various contractors, engineers, architects and state and local officials that saw the project through to completion.
Building committee co-chairmen Francis "Bigs" Waterman and Howard Wineberg held the ribbon aloft as middle school representative, eighth-grader Claire Klammer, and high school representative Austin Herzog, a 12th-grader, did the honors, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Before the key moment, Adams-Cheshire Regional School District (ACRSD) Superintendent Alfred Skrocki manned the podium to address the audience.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment and a spectacular building," Skrocki said. "We're all very proud of it."
Still, Skrocki -- who was praised throughout the ceremony for his tireless work, "living and breathing" the project for the past year -- refocused attention on what he views as the district's greatest asset.
"What's even more outstanding, and more important, is the students," Skrocki added. "This is your building. It was built to serve your needs."
School Committee Chairman Paul Butler told the crowd
"Even walking across the parking lot gave a new sense that we have something special here," he said.
Butler said entering the school's atrium enhanced that impression. He called the building "one building that all other [local facilities] will be compared to and measured against."
Butler also touched on the theme put forth by Skrocki.
"What makes this school is its teachers ... and you students are the very spirit of Hoosac Valley," Butler said. "We believe in education, and we believe in you."
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, and Massachusetts School Building Authority Executive Director Jack McCarthy also offered their thoughts on the newly opened building.
"Congratulations to the Selectmen of both towns for being forward and progressive and voting to allow this project to happen," Cariddi said. "This school is a model for the commonwealth."
Cariddi also credited the MSBA, who funded roughly 79 percent of the project, calling it "one of the best run offices in the commonwealth."
McCarthy said the renovated school exceeds the MSBA ideal. He credited every Adams and Cheshire Town Meeting member for voting 4 to 1 in favor of funding the combined $12 million commitment of the two towns to the project. The MSBA paid the lion's share of the costs -- $28 million.
"I want the students here today to know your parents and neighbors voted to raise their taxes in order to give you this fantastic school," McCarthy said. "When you see them in their yards or on the street as you're coming home today, just say ‘thank you.' "
Wineberg, who's mother, Florence, was a guest of honor at the ceremony, summed up the hopes of students, administrators and a community just beginning to enjoy the benefits of its new facility.
"Your education here will be second to none," Wineberg said.